Astronauts Show Off Microsoft Surface Tablets Aboard The ISS

Microsoft's family of hybrid devices, called the Surface Pro line, has impressed the general public. But apparently, the devices have also been successfully received by NASA. So much so that the 2-in-1 device was used to conduct the Biomolecule Sequencer experiment in zero gravity - the first time in history.

A First In History

According to NASA, it was the first time that DNA was successfully sequenced aboard the International Space Station. Though the project is notable simply because it was a success, is is even more so for the doors that it opens. Sequencing the DNA of living organisms in zero gravity is the starting point of what could be multiple scientific and medical possibilities.

For instance, being able to look closely at DNA while aboard a spacecraft could help astronauts diagnose certain illnesses and further determine what kind of threat these illnesses are. So in terms of long-term projects, the success of the experiment is instantly vital.

The experiment was conducted by Astronaut Kate Rubins and was considered a success because her results matched up with an experiment, which was correspondingly being conducted on Earth.

Why NASA Picked The Microsoft Surface Pro

As MS Power User adds, NASA used a commercially available DNA sequencing device called, MinION, which was developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies. The portable device works as follows: a positive current is sent through pores which are embedded within the device, in what are called nanopores.

The MinION correspondingly plugs into either a PC or a laptop using a USB. And this is why the Microsoft Surface Pro was used for the experiment - because it sports a full USB 3.0 port, thereby making it the ideal device to use in the experiment.

While this is momentous in itself, Microsoft has further plans to help ease the work of NASA. That is, the company has already sent over two sets of HoloLens headsets to the ISS. 

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