NASA awards $7 million for new life detection on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn
New Delhi : NASA took pleasure to award whopping prize money of nearly $7 million for new detection of non-Earth-like life on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn’s icy moons. According to offical report, the Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures (LAB) will lay the groundwork for characterising potential biosignatures, or signs of life.
The initial steps of interdisciplinary project is based on four features of life that do not assume any specific biochemistry, and will branch out from these concepts to build a framework for looking for life “as we don’t know it”.
The features under consideration include patterns of chemical complexity, surface complexity, chemical disequilibrium with the surrounding environment, and evidence of energy transfer.
The aforesaid indicators have been chosen since they can be framed in a way that doesn’t bias observations toward the specific forms of life on Earth and are methods that could be implemented on flight missions, the statement noted.
The LAB consists of 15 team members from universities and institutions around the world constituting of planetary scientists, biologists, chemists, computer scientists, mathematicians and veteran instrument scientists.
“Our goal is to go beyond what we currently understand and devise ways to find forms of life we can scarcely imagine,” principal investigator Sarah Stewart Johnson from Georgetown University, said in the statement.
The team of researchers will present the groundwork for characterising potential biosignatures that do not presuppose any particular molecular framework, as well as design tools for their detection and strategies for interpretation.
“Detecting life in an agnostic fashion means not using characteristics particular to Earth life,” said Heather Graham at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“We’re working to transform how to measure biosignatures, or signs of life, in and outside of our solar system,” Graham said.