NASA to boost search for alien life with new powerful tool
New Delhi : NASA scientists have developed a new spectroscopy instrument to give boost to their search for life beyond Earth.
The instrument will be able to detect compounds and minerals associated with biological activity more quickly and with greater sensitivity than previous instruments.
However, there have been no found evidence yet that can claim life exists beyond Earth.
The new system will be an advancement of analytical technique known as micro Raman spectroscopy. It uses the interaction between laser light and a sample to provide chemical composition information on a microscopic scale. It can detect organic compounds such as the amino acids found in living things and identify minerals formed by biochemical processes on Earth that might indicate life on other planets, the study said.
"Our instrument is one of the most advanced Raman spectrometers ever developed," said M Nurul Abedin of NASA Langley Research Center who led the research team. "It overcomes some of the key limitations of traditional micro Raman instruments and is designed to serve as an ideal instrument for future missions that use rovers or landers to explore the surface of Mars or Jupiter's icy Europa moon," Abedin said.
The new advanced system has been named as standoff ultra-compact micro Raman (SUCR) instrument. It has been developed by NASA scientists in collaboration with the University of Hawaii.
"We had to make sure the instrument was very small and light so that it could travel aboard a small, fuel-efficient spaceship that would make the nine-month journey to Mars or the six-year journey to Europa," said Abedin.
"The instrument must also work with other instruments aboard a rover or lander and be unaffected by the harsh radiation conditions found on other planets," Abedin said.