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Robot could search Mars for alien organisms


Posted on Sunday, 12 August, 2018 | Comment icon 8 comments

Could there be microorganisms living just beneath the Martian surface ? Image Credit: NASA
NASA is investigating the possibility of sending a probe to Mars that could directly seek out alien life forms.
Curiosity, like the other rovers that have landed on Mars in recent years, has focused on finding evidence that Mars could have once supported alien life, rather than on seeking out alien life itself.

Finding a way to reliably identify alien organisms on other worlds has long proven a challenge.

One scientist who has been working on the problem is Melissa Floyd of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. She has been developing the instrumentation needed to sift through soil and rock samples for extraterrestrial microbes as well as the analytical methods needed to identify them.

In particular, she wants to find evidence of archaea - a type of single-celled microorganism that was the first form of life to arise on our own planet billions of years ago.

"I had this idea, actually a major assumption on my part: what if life evolved on Mars the same way it did here on Earth?" she said. "Mars was bombarded with the same soup of chemistry as Earth."

The key to finding these microorganisms is a technique known as fluorescent in situ hybridization which involves putting the samples through a complex sequence of analytical steps.

If this process can be automated, it could then be implemented in to a future lander or rover mission.

If such a mission was to actually find something, it would be a discovery of monumental proportions.

Source: Engadget | Comments (8)

Tags: Mars, Life

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 on 12 August, 2018, 20:56
Just send me. I will gladly go and do it for free.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Not A Rockstar on 12 August, 2018, 23:52
I like this plan. If we wait to send manned efforts it will be a lot longer and perhaps rash. Sending a robot meanwhile which also has sensors to report radiation and daily ranges might make the difference for a manned effort afterwards, besides finding something interesting which might refine that plan more. JMO.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Saitung on 13 August, 2018, 4:58
If we do discover life it willbe by taking small careful steps, as NASA is mandated NOT to land in areas that show a high probability of life for fear of us contaminating said area. In other words they will not land on green pastures and lakes.
Comment icon #4 Posted by NicoletteS on 14 August, 2018, 11:31
Thats a whole lotta what ifs.
Comment icon #5 Posted by johncbdg on 14 August, 2018, 13:41
I do hopethey do not spend billions looking for alien life forms and find it most in here would take to there bed a cry i would hate for Nasa to burst there bubble. If NASA is going looking thenthere is a very big chance they know more than they are saying or there would be no money spending on looking for a no hope project and one that is looking for alien life forms
Comment icon #6 Posted by Trelane on 14 August, 2018, 16:20
I don't think many people would be upset. The chance of us finding microbial life outside of Earth has had increased support over the last 20 years.
Comment icon #7 Posted by johncbdg on 14 August, 2018, 18:52
I always thought that ever one new there was life out there and took as thenorm are you telling me there where people out there and still are saying earth was the only place with life on it is that what you are saying. PS you are winding us up eh.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Trelane on 14 August, 2018, 21:14
I am simply saying that those you propose would cry don't deny the possibility of microbial life off-earth.


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