DNA survives space, according to ABC News in Science 27 November 2014 and PLoS ONE doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112979. A group of scientists in Germany and Switzerland have placed DNA samples on the outside of a rocket to see if it could survive the hazards of launch, travel in space and re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. These hazards include extreme temperatures, high acceleration, vacuum of space, radiation, and the impact of landing.
The DNA was placed on the surface of the craft and in grooves in the screw heads in the rocket’s structure. The rocket was sent on a suborbital flight lasting a total of 13 minutes, including 6 minutes and 18 seconds in micro-gravity. After the flight, they found some DNA had survived in all placement sites. The best survival rate was 53% in the screw heads. They then tested it to see if it still had some biological function by inserting it into living cells and found 35% of the DNA was still functional.
The results have encouraged those who are looking for evidence life was delivered to earth from outer space. Malcolm Walter of the Australian Centre for astrobiology sciences at the University of New South Wales commented: “This is rigorous research and interesting in terms of the transfer of viable biological material between solar system objects. This is a different and much more likely version of the panspermia hypothesis with rocks being blasted off somewhere like Mars by an asteroid impact. The rocks, which contain microbes deep inside them, float though space and eventually fall to the surface of a planet such as Earth. Over 30 Mars meteorites have so far been detected on Earth, so we know there’s a traffic of meteoroids between the planets and potentially a mechanism for transferring microbial life between the planets”.
Editorial Comment: These scientists have definitely proven that DNA is a particularly tough molecule. But the fact it can survive such extreme conditions for a brief time does not explain how the DNA was originally formed, or how it acquired the information needed to make it biologically functional. Nor does this research provide any help for the hypothesis life was seeded to earth from outer space, rather than evolving here. Simply note that the DNA tested only has biological function when it is re-inserted (by intelligent scientists) back into already functioning living cells i.e. life forms that were already on earth since they had not been sent on a perilous journey into space. On its own DNA is a complex but inactive molecule that will eventually fall apart unless it is carefully packaged and maintained inside a living cell.
The panspermia hypothesis is no help to the theory that life naturally evolved from chemicals. If, as all the evidence suggests, life could and can never auto-evolve from chemicals on earth, then changing the origin of life to another planet does not actually solve the problem – it merely shifts the question. The biggest problem in origin of life research is to explain how small molecules containing no information, acquired the vast amounts of information in DNA to build and maintain living things. Matter itself cannot create information. It can only carry information that has been imposed on it by a creative intelligence, who uses the properties of matter to carry the information. Give up Dawkins et al. God has got you outsmarted. (Ref. biochemistry, nucleic acids, rocket science, astrobiology)
Evidence News vol. 15 No. 1
4 February 2015
Creation Research Australia