DARPA Is Supposedly Engineering Organisms to Make Mars Livable

By Carl Engelking | June 26, 2015 1:08 pm


The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to create organisms that will turn the Red Planet a shade of green, at least according to a reporter who had access to their recent conference. As with most things DARPA does, there’s not a lot of publicly available details about the plan. DARPA denies that terraforming Mars in anywhere in their sights. But comments made by Alicia Jackson, deputy director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, seem to indicate that it is at least a hypothetical possibility.

A Big Announcement

In the distant future, if humans want to take a stroll outside on Mars, the planet will need some serious “redecorating” through a process called terraforming. Basically, we need to add plants, algae and other organisms that undergo photosynthesis in order to generate gases that build the foundation of an atmosphere. With an atmosphere in place, Mars will begin to look and feel a lot like Earth.

Terraforming Mars sounds like a job for generations far into the future — or a plot line written for Hollywood’s Matt Damon — but DARPA may be helping bring it nearer.

“For the first time, we have the technological toolkit to transform not just hostile places here on Earth, but to go into space not just to visit, but to stay,” Jackson said at a DARPA-hosted biotech conference this week, according to Vice’s Motherboard.

Step By Step

The project’s centerpiece presently is software, called DTA GView, which maps genomes is fine-scale detail and gives scientists a new way to mine this genetic library for ideal traits. The long-term plan is to pick and choose preferred genes from a number of species, combine them, and create a new organism. It’ll all start with simple bacteria and microorganisms, but more complex organisms are on the radar.

Mars likely won’t be the first place these customized creatures will operate. DARPA could use specifically engineered organisms to rehabilitate tracts of land on Earth devastated by natural or man-made disasters. Organisms could take a wasteland and make it green once again, Motherboard reports.

There’s still a long way to go before rainforests are growing on Mars, but it’s certainly exciting that terraforming Mars is no longer a completely fantastical idea.


Photo credit: manjik/Shutterstock

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Technology, top posts
  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    It’s been done, Youtube v=6JDLrTmLo8M

    Given mob hysteria over gene-gineered golden rice containing beta-carotene that would have each year spared some 700,000 Vinamin A-deficiency blindings and deaths in Southeast Asia, one doubts any double digit IQ will tolerate the release of Franken-yeast promised to remediate cousin Matilda’s unusual scent. Mars, like the Atacama desert and Atlantic Avenue/4th Street in Southeast District of Columbia, is irremediable. A realistic target would be Jupiter’s atmosphere and chemiautotrophs (available off the shelf). Consume Jove/Zeus. Let’s see what is hidden under under present day clouds.

  • zlop

    Terra-forming Mars takes too long.
    Best we can do quickly, is to live in caves at the bottom of a deep valleys.

    • mary.bullock4

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  • Stella4578

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  • http://www.librarything.com/profile/Bretzky1 Brett Champion

    If DARPA is working on this technology, I doubt that they are working on it primarily to work on Mars. That’s the kind of thing that will get your budget cut in DC, or at least get you disapproving finger wags from your oversight committee.

  • Smarter than Your Average Bear

    Not going to happen unless there is a way to restart mars’ core and regenerate a magnetic field

  • Mike Richardson

    DARPA does have a reputation of taking on long-term projects that might seem far-fetched at first, but eventually change the world — development of the internet decades ago, and currently, advances in robotics and driverless vehicles. In this case, it would involve literally changing a world, from seemingly lifeless, to a second world capable of supporting a large human population. It will be important in the near term, however, to make sure that Mars is more than just seemingly lifeless. It would be a major loss to our understanding of life in the universe if introduced organisms from Earth destroyed simple native Martian life before it can be studied. After all, there’s still some debate about the source of intermittent methane emissions on the Red Planet, and the possibility of microbial life similar to earthly extremophiles living below the Martian surface. If it turns out Mars is currently lifeless, though, I’d be one of the strongest proponents for terraforming and colonization. It’ll be interesting to see what DARPA has planned for Mars in the coming years.

  • Juliusz Wnuk

    And a man´ll have the name: …GOD…

  • DEWtarget05

    History has shown that new technologies have the power to be both a positive and destructive force for humanity. It is imperative that the new technologies being developed for space are monitored and regulated.

    My name is Darren McMahon and I’m being targeted with satellite D.E.W.’s (directed energy weapons). I believe I’m being targeted for experimentation purposes. This satellite D.E.W. targeting is most probably being performed by an entity within D.A.R.P.A. (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and/or the N.R.O. (National Reconnaissance Office) and U.S. defense corporations.

    I am being targeted with concentrated directed energy, possibly microwave, in the form of a narrow beam and/or laser. Multiple times throughout the day, I will experience either a painful burning sensation on the top of my head, or the painful sensation of a pin/nail entering the top of my head, both of which are followed by pain within my head, and a feeling of sickness and weakness throughout my body. The pain and sickness I experience following each D.E.W. hit to the top of my head varies directly with the intensity of the hit. This satellite D.E.W. targeting of me has been physical and mental torture. It causes me pain and sickness many times throughout my day and depresses my mood. It has isolated me from my friends and family. I do not like to go out in public places such as restaurants, stores, etc. because I never know when I will be hit by the satellite(s).

    I believe the purpose of this satellite D.E.W. experimentation is to see what short-term and long-term negative health effects can be produced by targeting humans. From my personal observations of the pain and sickness I experience following each hit to the top of my head, I believe it is possible for these satellite D.E.W.’s to cause strokes and cancers in humans. I believe this experimentation is also being performed in order to refine the use of these satellite anti-personnel weapons to the point where future targeted individuals will not be able to detect what is causing their pain and sickness. If this goal is achieved, these D.E.W.’s will likely be used on targets such as activists, journalists, and other people deemed as threats. I believe these weapons have the capability to slowly kill individuals with little to no trace of evidence.

    These satellite directed energy weapons are a serious threat to our democracy and human rights on our planet. They are silent and invisible, and therefore not easily detectable. They employ laser technology which allow their operators to target specific individuals, without detection by others, even when in close proximity to the targeted individual.

    Darren McMahon
    dewtarget05 AT
    yahoo DOT com


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