NASA Unveils New Method to Test for Extraterrestrial Life
NASA scientists have unveiled a new test that uses a liquid-based technique known as capillary electrophoresis to separate a mixture of organic molecules into its components. The new method to search for life is designed to analyze amino acids, from which all life on Earth is built. A study done by the scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, California, shows that the test is 10,000 times more sensitive than tests currently employed by exploratory spacecraft.
“Our method improves on previous attempts by increasing the number of amino acids that can be detected in a single run,” said Jessica Creamer, a post doctoral scholar at JPL. “Additionally, it allows us to detect these amino acids at very low concentrations, even in highly salty samples, with a very simple ‘mix and analyze’ process.”
The scientists hope to find life on other worlds by searching for it in places similar to where it is found on Earth.
“One of NASA’s highest-level objectives is the search for life in the universe,” said the project’s principal investigator, Peter Willis of JPL.. “Our best chance of finding life is by using powerful liquid-based analyses like this one on ocean worlds.”
Source: Clarksville Online