Daily Management Review

Alien Hunt With ‘Chemical Laptops’ To Replace The Lengthy Process of Chemical Laboratory Tests


12/07/2015


N.A.S.A is working towards creating portable chemical testing device which could test samples right on the location to detect any presence of life, especially in the remote corners of the universe.



In the present times where people carry the world in their pockets, the engineers of N.A.S.A are designing “a portable, miniaturised laboratory” in the form of a “Chemical Laptop” which will be helping the astronauts in “on spot” analysing of samples “as they enter the alien world” in search of “presence of life”.
 
The said instrument, intended for locating “signatures of life on another world”, is under development at the “Jet Propulsion Laboratory” of N.A.S.A which is situated at Pasadena in California. Scientists are also planning using the said unique device to examine the red planet Mars, whereby a “post-doctoral fellow” of N.A.S.A based at JPL, Jessica Creamer informs:
"If this instrument were to be sent to space, it would be the most sensitive device of its kind to leave the Earth and the first to be able to look for both amino acids and fatty acids - the building blocks of life”.
 
The “Chemical Laptop” imitates the dimensions of a “regular computing laptop” save its thickness, which is greater than the latter as “chemical analysis components” present inside require more space. The machine is designed in a manner wherein, it has to “to ingest a sample to analyse” the same. A technologist of JPL, Fernanda Mora added:
"Our device is a chemical analyser that can be reprogrammed like a laptop to perform different functions”.
 
Moreover, he also informed that the functional aspects of the chemical laptop will be very much like a “regular” one. Therefore, it will have “different apps for different analyses like amino acids and fatty acids”. The former fabricates proteins, while the latter play a key role in the “components of cell membranes”.
 
However, these two essential substances of life can also be present in “non-life sources” but the chemical laptop is capable of distinguishing them. When the test conducted by the chemical laptop showed a “50-50 mixture of left-handed and right-handed amino acids”, the conclusion to be drawn from the same would be that most probably the sample was “not of biological origin”, whereby Creamer reminded:
"But if we were to find an excess of either left or right, that would be the golden ticket. That would be the best evidence so far that life exists on other planets”.
 
The “length” of fatty acids’ carbon chain draws special interest of the scientists as it would give a clue to “what organisms are or were present”. Talking about an upcoming test that would be conducted in collaboration of “Nasa's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California” and will be performed in the Atacama Desert of Chile, Creamer stated:
"This could also be an especially useful tool for icy-worlds targets such as Enceladus and Europa. All you would need to do is melt a little bit of the ice, and you could sample it and analyze it directly”.
 
In fact, the “Chemical Laptop” could be used on the Earth also to monitor and analyse samples “directly in the field”, like in the field of medicine the same could be used to determine “whether the contents of drugs are legitimate or counterfeit”.






References:
http://gadgets.ndtv.com/
 







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