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Surface tablets helped to sequence DNA on board the International Space Station

NASA announced today that DNA was successfully sequenced in microgravity for the first time by astronauts on board the International Space Station. The astronauts used Surface tablets from Microsoft to help achieve this historical event.

In a press release (via MSPU), NASA clearly shows the Surface tablet in an image with NASA astronaut Kate Rubin. She successfully sequenced DNA as part of Biomolecule Sequencer experiment this weekend:

The Biomolecule Sequencer investigation sent samples of mouse, virus and bacteria DNA to the space station to test a commercially available DNA sequencing device called MinION, developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies. The MinION works by sending a positive current through pores embedded in membranes inside the device, called nanopores. At the same time, fluid containing a DNA sample passes through the device. Individual DNA molecules partially block the nanopores and change the current in a way that is unique to that particular DNA sequence. By looking at these changes, researchers can identify the specific DNA sequence.

The first results from the experiment show that the DNA sequencing matched up on board the ISS and on Earth. NASA says the ultimate goal is to "extract, prepare and sequence DNA to identify unknown microbes on orbit."

Microsoft has already sent two of the HoloLens headsets to the ISS for different experiments.

  • Nice to see the Surface "boldly go".
  • So in other words, the real goal was to confirm that the results were the same in orbit as they were on earth, since they already sequenced the DNA on earth to compare the ones in space. As a bonus, they also proved that a Surface tablet could be launched into orbit and still work, at least, as a dummy monitor for the MinION.
    Seems to me that the Surface was the minion, and the MinION was boss. Picture reminds me of my favorite movie quote from The Great Muppet Caper, "Look Ma, No Brains!" yes I need a nap.
  • Wow, the depth of this response...
    I too need a nap
  • but.. but she's not riding a bike...  
  • What??!! No Macbook??!! Gobsmacked!!... Not....
  • Or an iPad Pro.
  • Perhaps a Gameboy...
  • Makes me proud to own one. :)
  • Would like to see that tried on the iPad Pro "computer."
  • The iPad Pro can't go up to the ISS though. Too much junk floating around in Earth's orbit as it is.
  • RDRR!
  • News! ;)
  • wow. nice!!
  • Mars potato growth monitoring - next step, MS?
  • Monitoring Mars potato growth while playing 70s disco music.
  • So basically NASA used a computer to sequence DNA... rivetting.
  • Actually, they used a computer to verify sequencing done on earth. And yes, it is riveting because it is needed to verify whether or not there might be DNA issues for long term space flight. It is early research for Mars, or beyond, type missions.
  • No, the sequenced DNA in space using a computer and a sequencer. These are gel/liquid-based techniques, so unless you test them in microgravity, you can't tell if they will work. This is big. Read up on it. It really is