Mars chip to test for life signs - AnabolicMinds.com

Mars chip to test for life signs

  1. Elite Member
    yeahright's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    6,368
    Rep Power
    10344

    Reputation

    Lightbulb Mars chip to test for life signs


    Mars chip to test for life signs
    By Jonathan Amos
    Science reporter, BBC News

    It is set to become one of the key experiments on ExoMars, Europe's next mission to the Red Planet in 2011.

    The Life Marker Chip (LMC) will test soil samples drilled from below Mars' surface for specific molecules that can be associated with life.

    The results might not be a definitive proof of the existence of microbes, but they could still provide tantalising evidence for their possible presence.

    A UK-led international consortium is developing the technology.

    On Monday, it was awarded 0.5m (0.7m euros) to advance the system's design and demonstrate such an instrument can be made small enough and light enough to be flown half a billion kilometres to Mars.

    The new PParc money allows us to do the early development work that will pre-position the UK to win the ExoMars contracts when they go out to competition Dr Mike Healy, EADS-Astrium
    "As ever on missions like ExoMars, the mass constraints are very tight - we're trying to get the whole package down to about 800g," said Dr Mark Sims, from Leicester University.

    "Essentially, you're looking at something that's the weight of a mobile phone in a lunchbox," he told BBC News.

    Prototype proof


    The 0.5m is part of a 1.7m (2.5m euros) package of R&D investment announced by the UK's Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PParc) to enable UK scientists and engineers to develop key instrumentation and technologies for the ExoMars mission.

    It would also carry a range of instrumentation capable of investigating the planet's life potential - past and present.

    The LMC would be a key component of ExoMars' "Pasteur Laboratory".

    Dr Sims' team is now engaged in a 20-month study that expects to turn the chip instrument from an exciting concept into a working prototype.

    The Life Marker Chip will look for the presence of molecules such as amino acids; DNA; and adenosine triphosphate, the critical molecule involved in energy transfer in cells.

    Martian 'pregnancy'

    To make a detection, the ExoMars rover would drill down into the Martian soil with a mole and pull a sample into the Pasteur housing. There, the sample would be ground up and treated with solvents to pull out any organic (carbon-rich) material.

    The fluid would then be passed through a test channel in the LMC.


    EUROPE'S EXOMARS MISSION

    To leave Kourou, French Guiana, spaceport in 2011
    Will launch on Russian-built Soyuz-Fregat vehicle
    Planetary positions account for 2-year journey
    2013 landing will avoid worst of duststorm season
    US may be asked to provide orbital relay of data
    Mission could yet be updated to include an orbiter
    Study of past or present life is a prime mission goal
    The technology exploits the fact that molecules will only bind with other molecules of a particular shape - essentially a "lock and key" approach. If one of the target molecules is present in the fluid, it will bind to a prepared receptor in the test channel.

    It is a process that is very similar to pharmacy testing kits that detect the presence of a hormone associated with the early stages of pregnancy.

    "The pregnancy testing kit is a good analogy," said Dr Sims. "The fluid flows across a molecular receptor array; but instead of getting a 'blue line', we see dots where the compounds are bound to the surface; and they will actually fluoresce."

    He added: "If [Martian life] has a chemistry similar to life on Earth, we will see it."

    'Winning' position

    Britain has promised more than 70m (100m euros) to Esa's Aurora Solar System exploration programme, of which the ExoMars project is the major focus.

    The UK is the biggest "subscriber" after Italy and can expect a sizeable number of contracts to come its way when Esa invites final tenders to build the mission's components.

    The commitment already of UK industry to the mission can be seen in "Bridget", a testbest rover chassis developed by EADS-Astrium and featured by BBC News last month.

    Bridget has been trialling the locomotive aspects of the ExoMars design on the slopes of the El Teide volcano in Tenerife.

    So far, Bridget has been constructed with Astrium's own money. The PParc funds will now help develop an autonomous navigation system that would enable the rover to guide itself over a rocky landscape without the need for human intervention.

    "The new PParc money allows us to do the early development work that will pre-position the UK to win the ExoMars contracts when they go out to competition," said Astrium's Dr Mike Healy.

    Other R&D money from PParc is going to support development work on instruments such as microseismometers that would detect "Marsquakes" on the Red Planet; a panoramic camera that would make 3D maps of the surface; and a spectrometer to measure the ultraviolet environment on Mars.



    Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk
    Story from BBC NEWS:
    BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Mars chip to test for life signs

  2. Board Supporter
    snakebyte05's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    1,538
    Rep Power
    899

    Reputation

    interesting article, I always liked hearing about the space programs out there, I honestly dont get why people think it is a waste of money. We may not learn something this second, but I dont think we are destined to stay on this planet forever. If we dont fund, how will we ever advance, plus there is much to learn out there that can affect our planet.
  3. Elite Member
    yeahright's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    6,368
    Rep Power
    10344

    Reputation

    Lightbulb


    Quote Originally Posted by snakebyte05
    interesting article, I always liked hearing about the space programs out there, I honestly dont get why people think it is a waste of money. We may not learn something this second, but I dont think we are destined to stay on this planet forever. If we dont fund, how will we ever advance, plus there is much to learn out there that can affect our planet.
    I actually believe that the space program(s) is/are the noblest of human adventures. They are an investment in a far off, far more grand future for our progeny.

    At this point in time, we're essentially just cavemen learning how to make rudimentary tools....but everything else will be based upon our efforts now.

    You may be interested in this link.

    The Mars Society - Main Site
    •   
       

Similar Forum Threads

  1. Test for Life
    By cgwright in forum 35 and Older
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 04-01-2013, 06:02 PM
  2. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-20-2012, 09:20 AM
  3. to tall for life
    By benmayro in forum General Chat
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 06-15-2012, 11:36 PM
  4. what to test for when to check my HGH
    By TheDiesel85 in forum Anabolics
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-31-2011, 10:08 PM
  5. Blood test for life insurance while on test?
    By timmmah in forum Anabolics
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-06-2009, 12:15 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Log in
Log in