Scientists create laser device to search for life on other planets
Scientists have created a device to search for biological activity using a laser, reports the University of Maryland.
The device, which weighs only about 8 kg, is a scaled-down combination of two important tools for detecting signs of life and determining material composition: a pulsed ultraviolet laser that vaporizes small amounts of material from a sample, and an Orbitrap analyzer that analyzes the spectrum of radiation emitted in the process to determine chemical composition.
Orbitrap was originally created for commercial use, one of the authors of the invention, noted.
According to him, you can find them in laboratories in the pharmaceutical, medical and proteomic industries. The device in our lab weighs about 200 kg, and it took us eight years to create a smaller prototype that could be used effectively in space.
The new device has the same advantages as its larger predecessors, but is optimized for space exploration and in situ analysis of planetary materials.
Due to its low mass and minimal power consumption, the Mini Orbitrap LDMS instrument can be made part of the payload of an interplanetary probe. An important advantage of this method is the absence of physical contact between the instrument and the sample under study, which eliminates contamination.