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Astronauts Use CRISPR Gene Editing in Space for First Time Ever – Futurism

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This can help humans travel further and further into space.

CRISPR on the ISS

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) has successfully leveraged CRISPR gene editing in space for the first time ever. 

The team of researchers were able to leverage CRISPR-Cas9 aboard the ISS, and show how they can study the impact of microgravity on DNA repair and damage, according to Engadget. The experiment itself actually occurred in 2019. However, the findings were finally published last Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE

DNA Repair in Space

The researchers were also able to develop a new technique for studying DNA repair in space using yeast cells. The scientists would use the CRISPR technology to create extremely precise damage to the yeast DNA strands and then observe how it repaired itself. 

The findings will help researchers better understand how DNA can (or can’t) repair itself during space travel. 

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“Astronauts traveling outside of Earth’s protective atmosphere face increased risk of DNA damage due to the ionizing radiation that permeates space,” said a press release from PLoS regarding the findings. “Therefore, which specific DNA-repair strategies are employed by the body in space may be particularly important.”

Furthering Space Travel

The news has some very big implications for long-term space travel. For example, if researchers can understand the damage caused by ionized radiation to astronauts’ DNA, they might be able to engineer methods of protecting them from those dangers.

Once astronauts are more adequately prepared and protected for space travel, that means we can travel further than we ever have before. 

READ MORE: Astronauts show how CRISPR gene editing works in space [Engadget]

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More on CRISPR: CRISPR Has a Problem: It Manges DNA It Wasn’t Supposed to Touch

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To help chart the cosmos, Western space researchers turn to crowd sourcing – CBC.ca

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Western University researchers have tapped the help of hundreds of amateur and professional astronomers in an effort to make sure no meteor is unable to slip by the Earth undetected.

To do that, they’re relying on the observations taken from 450 cameras in 30 different countries manned by “enthusiastic amateur astronomers” made up of professional and citizen scientists.

That data is then sent to Western University as part of what’s called the Global Meteor Network (GMN), headed by Denis Vida.

“So we have a lot of enthusiastic amateur astronomers, citizen scientists and also professionals that build, operate and maintain these cameras,” Vida told CBC’s Chris dela Torre during Afternoon Drive. “And every night they inspect the data set and send their data to a central server here at the University of Western Ontario.”

It’s not just about observing meteors – it’s about tracking what’s left of the ones that make it to the earth’s surface too.

“So we also observe a meteorite dropping fireballs,” said Vida. “They’re quite rare over an area of let’s say the country the size of France or Spain. Could only expect two to three of those fireballs a year that drop more than, let’s say, 300 grams of meteorites on the ground.”

“So because these events are very rare, it is important to observe 24/7.”

Vida explained that when one of their cameras spot one of them, they collect the data and find its location so they can retrieve what’s left for analysis – and analysis needs to happen quickly.  

“There are certain things in them, like some radionuclide to decay very quickly, but those can tell us how old the meteorite is, how long it was after it was ejected from the parent asteroid that it fell on the ground,” he said.

Vida explained that what ends up on the ground are just “several kilograms of materials” by the time they reach the earth’s surface. They aren’t hot either. They cool down on their descent.

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Global push to monitor meteor showers led by Western University – CTV News London

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MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. —
London, Ont.’s Western University is leading a worldwide effort to monitor meteor showers and meteorite falls.

The Global Meteor Network (GMN) includes more than 450 cameras in 23 countries – hosted by amateur and professional astronomers.

The goal of the project, led by Denis Vida, a postdoctoral associate at Western, is to ensure unique or rare space events are not missed.

Vida explained in a statement, “Other astronomers can pool their resources to build a big telescope on top of a mountain where the skies are dark and clear year-round, but meteor astronomers need spatial coverage most of all.”

Meteors can occur anywhere in the world, happen close to earth and often burn up at around 100 km above the surface — so they can only be well observed from within about 300 km and need to be seen by cameras in at least two places to get the exact location.

That’s where the Global Meteor Network comes in.

In March, the network helped locate a rare portion of a meteorite that landed in Winchcombe, England on Feb. 28 and figure out where in space it originated.

“Its role in the recovery and analysis of the Winchcombe meteorite fall is proof positive that GMN works,” said Vida.

The first system to observe meteorites was installed at Western in 2017, and it continues to grow as the cost of meteor cameras has declined.

GMN also publishes the orbits of all observed meteors around the world within 24 hours of observation. The location of cameras and meteor data can be seen here.

The network also hopes to better understand flight patterns and flux capacities of meteorites, and even predict future events.

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MDA gets $35.3 million contract from Canadian Space Agency for Canadarm 3 components – Times Colonist

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BRAMPTON, Ont. — The Canadian Space Agency has awarded a contract worth $35.3 million to MDA Ltd. to design a key component of Canadarm 3.

The funds will be used to design Gateway External Robotics Interfaces or grapple fixtures for Canadarm 3, which is Canada’s contribution to the United States-led Lunar Gateway, a small space station that will orbit the moon.

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The contract is a follow-on to the first phase of interface work awarded in August 2019. A construction phase will likely be awarded in about a year.

The first elements of Gateway will launch in 2024, with Canadarm 3 scheduled to launch two years later.

The contract is the third awarded to MDA for the multi-phase Canadarm 3 program valued at more than $1 billion.

Canadarm flew on 90 space shuttle missions after debuting in 1981. Canadarm 2 has been operating on the International Space Station for more than 20 years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:MDA)

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