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SETG will test the hypothesis that life on Mars, if it exists, shares a common ancestor with life on Earth.

There is increasing evidence that viable microbes could have been transferred between the two planets, based in part on calculations of meteorite trajectories and magnetization studies supporting only mild heating of meteorite cores. Based on the shared-ancestry hypothesis, this instrument will look for DNA and RNA through in-situ analysis of Martian soil, ice, or brine samples.

By applying recent advances in microfluidics, embedded systems, and biological automation, our team is developing an instrument that can isolate, amplify, detect, and classify any extant DNA or RNA-based organism.