I was looking at some terraforming links today, and got the idea of
adjusting humans to space, rather then space to humans. A space suit is the
first attempt at this, but I think we could do better. Ideally, it would be
best to achieve changes which would allow us to walk around on the Moon or
Mars unaided by a bulky suit. I've come up with some basic starting points:
1 - Try to figure out some way to incorporate the radiation-proofing
strategies of Deinococcus radiodurans into our genome. This bacteria can
survive massive dosages of radiation, strong enough to blast its DNA into
peices - somehow it manages to put it all back together. I am not exactly
sure how - they recently decoded its genome and I've been reading up on it.
A protein called RecA seems to have a big part in it - if the resistance is
as simple as the presence of a protein, it should be easy (by extropian
standards) to introduce the proper sequence into my genome, through gene
therapy, which would produce RecA.
2 - Lack of air could also be dealt with. The artificial blood cells proposed in Nanomedicine are basically miniature oxygen tanks. A liter or two of these in place of blood could keep you alive for a couple days (I have read precise figure - I forgot them). It might even be possible to wire you up somehow so you wouldn't need to replentish yourself constantly with more artificial blood cells. CO2 could be exhaled via the lungs, as usual. Intake of oxygen would depend on your planetary environment. On the moon, you could perhaps wear some kind of special shoe which sucks up regolith, breaks it down, and has tubes going into your feet to interface with the artificial blood cells. On Mars, basically the same thing, except sucking CO2 out of the air.
This would solve the radiation problem and the oxygen problem - there are still the issues of air pressure and temperature - any ideas?