Space

NASA creates new tool to fast-track search for alien life

To intensify its search for alien life, NASA has developed a new, powerful spectroscopy instrument that has the capability to detect compounds and minerals involving biological activity more precisely than before. The new tool can fasten up the detection process of minerals and compounds associated with biological activity and that to be with greater sensitivity than previously used tools.

Although many scientists have hypothesized and also indicated about the presence of alien life outside Earth, no one has got any strong evidence regarding the possibility of extraterrestrial life in Space. But NASA is not giving up rather it has decided to intensify its alien-hunting programme. It is eagerly looking for evidence of present or past alien life on other planets and has given alien search main priority under its Planetary Exploration Programme. Therefore, it has developed this new spectroscopy instrument which will fast-track alien search. The new device is the upgraded version of an analytical technique called micro Raman spectroscopy, hence its name, the standoff ultra-compact micro Raman (SUCR) instrument.

Lead researcher M Nurul Abedin of NASA Langley Research Center said that their instrument is one of the most advanced Raman Spectrometers ever developed. “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,” he said. What the new tool does is it provides chemical composition information of a sample by using the interaction between laser light and the sample.

The spectroscopic instrument can efficiently detect organic compounds like amino acids, which are present in living things. Also, it can identify minerals that are formed from biological processes on Earth that might act as an indicator of alien life on other planets. Informing more about the latest alien hunting instrument, Abedin said that they had 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. “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 added. NASA collaborated with the University of Hawaii to develop this new SUCR instrument.

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