How To Make Medicine on Mars

Today NASA’s InSight lander will touch down on Mars. InSight, which launched on May 5, is NASA’s first Mars landing since the Curiosity rover in 2012. The lander will begin a two-year mission to study Mars’ deep interior, gathering data that will help scientists understand the formation of rocky planets, including Earth.

NASA's InSight lander approaching Mars.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

While every spacecraft that reaches Mars offers more knowledge of the Red Planet, a lot of the excitement is fueled by hopes that someday these missions will bring humans to Mars and enable us to start colonies there. While this goal seems very distant, tremendous progress is being made. Scientists around the globe are making incremental discoveries that will lead to the advances necessary to make colonization of Mars a reality.

I had the pleasure of meeting one team of scientists doing just this—eight high school students from iGEM Team Navarra BG. I met the team and their advisors at the 2018 iGEM Giant Jamboree, where they presented their synthetic biology project, BioGalaxy, as part of the iGEM competition. The problem they aimed to solve is key to helping humans stay on Mars for an extended period of time—how do you take everything you need when there isn’t enough room on the spacecraft? Continue reading

Vegetable Gardening for Beginners

raised bedYou may have read several posts on this blog relating to the non-spring-like weather we have been experiencing here in the Midwest. Well, it’s still cold, but the weather has to break sooner or later and that concept has me so excited to get my garden going! Have you ever considered gardening? Are you new to gardening? You may have considered it and gotten overwhelmed by the details- What class should I take? What books should I read? What do I do?

I am here to tell you to Just Do It! There is nothing like watching your own food grow and then eating it. Things have been growing in the dirt since the beginning of time with no help from humans, so if you approach your garden project with this in mind and just aim to take it lightly, gardening can be really fun! I got started about four years ago only because someone at work left a flat full of different seedlings and a sign that said help yourself. I waited until the end of the day and only a few disappeared, so I carried the whole flat home on the bus and got started with just a 4´ × 4´ plot. Here are some beginner tips; just things I’ve learned over the last few years, that may help you get started. All these tips will be from a Madison, WI, perspective, but should be applicable anywhere in the midwest. Continue reading