NASA aims to use new tool to ‘sniff out’ life on Mars

NASA aims to use new tool to ‘sniff out’ life on Mars

A new sensing technique developed by the U.S. military is expected to eventually help scientist sniff out life on Mars or other planets in our solar system.

The prototype tool, dubbed the Bio-Indicator Lidar Instrument (BILI), is currently being tested by the U.S. military to remotely monitor the air for detecting potentially life-threatening chemicals, toxins or pathogens. Now, NASA scientists believe that it can help space probes detect signs of extraterrestrial life on other planets.

While the tool will not fly to space anytime soon, but in the future, it can help in detecting biosignatures like oxygen or methane in the atmosphere of an extraterrestrial world.

Branimir Blagojevic, a technologist with the U.S. space agency, said, “BILI’s measurements ... can be conducted quickly over a broad area. This is a survey instrument, with a nose for certain molecules.”

The detector uses "two ultraviolet lasers to pulse light at the dust," NASA said, causing the particles to become excited. Scientists can analyze the molecules in that state to see what the plumes are made of and possibly find chemical signs that would point to organics and life.

NASA has already sent multiple rovers to mars, and now it is planning to send another rover to the Red Planet in 2020. But, these rovers are not specifically designed to search for alien life. Instead, these rovers are designed to search for signs of extinct microbial life on the planet and collect rock samples.

Apart from NASA, the European Space Agency and Russia are pushing ahead with their ExoMars program that aims to find possible signs of past or present life on the Red Planet. Separately, India’s Mars orbiter is searching for signs of methane in the Red Planet’s atmosphere.

User login

You May Have Missed...

Uber announces complete overhaul of its app
Thu, 11/03/2016 - 08:15

On Tuesday, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced a major redesign of the Uber app, revealing that the app has been overhauled completely to focus on...

Nigeria Update

Fresh Polio Cases lead to WHO Travel Restrictions on Pakistan and Syria
Tue, 05/06/2014 - 00:45

World Health Organization has slapped international travel restrictions on Pakistan, Cameroon...

Economy Watch

US Import Prices decline in April
Thu, 05/14/2015 - 01:13

For a straight 10th month, US import prices declined in April. The decline could be due to the...

Health Tonight

Naturally-occurring bacteria to stop transmission of mosquito-borne illnesses
Thu, 10/27/2016 - 09:10

Introducing a naturally-occurring bacterium in the wild can help control mosquito-borne diseases...

Science Tonight

TMT team picks alternative site to contested Hawaii site
Tue, 11/01/2016 - 06:42

Bowing to severe opposition from native Hawaiians and environment activists, the team behind the...

UK News

Mobileye and Delphi team up to develop low-cost self-driving vehicle system
Wed, 08/24/2016 - 10:55

In an announcement made on Tuesday, two leading auto-parts suppliers – Israel-based Mobileye NV...


Sat, 01/17/2015 - 06:04

Aetna inc., health care company, on Friday announced that it has signed a deal with Gilead...

US News

U.S. premature birth rate jumps first time in 8 years in 2015
Wed, 11/02/2016 - 09:17

The number of premature births in the U.S. increased for the first time in eight years in 2015,...

Technology Tonight

Apple releases developer preview of iOS 10.2
Tue, 11/01/2016 - 09:19

Close on the heels of the iOS 10.1.1 public release on Monday, tech biggie Apple announced the...