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Finding Life beyond Earth with the Right Tool

A new tool is developed by Scientists that can look for signs of life with 10,000 times more sensitivity than instruments carried on previous spaceflight missions.

One path of finding life on other planets -- or moons involves looking for signature patterns of organic molecules. But looking for these molecules on Mars or other planetary surfaces has been a major challenge. The curiosity rover exploring Mars attempted to accomplish this, but failed due to reactions with other materials in the samples. So Peter A. Willis, Jessica Creamer and Maria F. Mora set out to address this problem.

The researchers created methods based on capillary electrophoresis to process soil or ice samples and detected 17 different amino acids. This particular set of amino acids can be found in large quantities in biological and non-living samples, but in certain patterns, could serve as an indicator of life. Willis, a member of the Europa Lander Science Definition Team, said that this type of technology is under consideration for future missions to ocean worlds like Europa and also Enceladus. According to researchers this is the best techniques to find signs of life on other worlds.

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