NASA Uses Molecular Markers

Take a look at the unfortunate name NASA has given to its small satellites used to study the earth’s magnetic fields:



  1. #1 Amit
    March 22, 2006

    You know, I was thinking the same thing…

  2. #2 AJ Mackenzie
    March 23, 2006

    I guess I don’t know what’s unfortunate about the name “Space Technology 5”. Care to clue us in?

  3. #3 RPM
    March 23, 2006

    Microsatellites are short tandem repeats found throughout the genome of most organisms. They can look like ATATATATATAT or CACACACACACA. They are usually a repeat of two or three nucleotides repeated about 10 times. They are good molecular markers because individuals of a single species usually vary in the number of repeats they carry (ie, the length of the region), and they are easy to assay using simple gel electrophoresis. They are useful in paternity studies because parents and offspring are expected to carry the same alleles.

  4. #4 windy
    March 23, 2006

    The name has been around for a while, even for real satellites. I remember searching for material on microsats almost ten years ago and finding web sites about space stuff.

    I’m not sure if the space guys or bio guys used it first – isn’t ‘satellite DNA’ quite an old term, then came ‘minisatellites’, but they didn’t work their way down to ‘microsatellites’ until 1989?

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