A SpaceX rocket is scheduled to blast off for the International Space Station. It will lift up a small  pocket sized DNA sequencer made by NASA to the space which will allow NASA’s astronaut Kate Rubins to decode or ‘sequence’ DNA in space, for the very first time in history. It is targeted to launch Monday, 18th July, 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The device can be called a virus-hunter that can work in space as well. A DNA sequencer can reveal  the order of basic chemical building block of life along a stretch on DNA, a gene. Once this order is  revealed, hereditary information that is carried on from one generation to another can be easily understood. Then, viruses can also be identified and studied. It is said that this $45,000 project will  also help researchers understand the reasons of bone loss and microbial changed that occur in space. According to Ms.Rubins, she will also be using the device to diagnose other health issues of  the astronauts and try concluding if microbes found in space can be treated with antibiotics.

Kate Rubins, a 37 year old microbiologist has been studying pathogens like Ebola and smallpox  throughout her career. Being a medical sciences student, she also did her research on cancer  biology. Lately, she flew to space from Kazakhstan for four months and this was the first time she  went out there. Using harmless test samples like bacteria, a virus and a mouse genome, Kate is all  set to carry out mind boggling research in the space. Ms.Rubins told Reuters that once she tests the  technology in the space, she would also like to use it for analyzing the water on the station to see if any microbes live in it.

Kate told media that she would be conducting experiments with heart and bone cells to see how  they grow different on Earth. She said, “We’re going to see the differences between heart cells grown on Earth, where you always have a gravity vector pulling those cells down into the bottom of the plate, versus cells that are weightless and they’re suspended on board.”