Undergraduate researchers at Stanford and Brown Universities are at work creating what they call a "Hell Cell" — a synthetic microbe hardy enough to withstand the harsh conditions of space, as reported by Wired. They are using "biobricks," or pre-packaged gene sequences from other environmentally durable organisms, called extremophiles, to create a multipurpose microbe that can mine minerals and perform other beneficial tasks on other planets. The students are part of the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) challenge, an annual competition where students use synthetic biology to create useful microorganisms. If you'd like to find out more about these indestructible cells that may or may not make the plot of Red Planet a reality, Stanford-Brown's iGEM page has all the recombinant information you could want.
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