DARPA wants to create synthetic organisms to terraform and create atmosphere for Mars
Alicia Jackson, deputy director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) said in a biotech conference:
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.
The scientists will be using extremophiles, which are bacteria that live in extreme environments on earth to terraform Mars and create a new atmosphere for it.
The terraforming process would need to warm-up and thicken the atmosphere of Mars, which can be accomplished with bacteria, algae and photosynthesizing plants specialized to thrive in the Mars environment.
So far, only e. coli and yeast have been used in synthetic biology research and scientists plan on engineering other kinds of bacteria.
I want to use any organism that has properties I want - I want to quickly map it and quickly engineer it. If you look at genome annotation software today, it’s not built to quickly find engineerable systems. It’s built to look for an esoteric and interesting thing I can publish an academic paper on.
DARPA may be developing it for Mars but since it does military research they believe the same advanced research in synthetic biology could create new potentials for military in extreme environments.