The new approach is based on technology similar to that used in pregnancy test kits. The so-called immunoassays are embodied in the “Life Marker Chip” (LMC) experiment, which has the potential to detect trace levels of biomarkers in the Martian environment. Biomarkers are molecular fingerprints that indicate if life currently is, or ever was, present on Mars.
The LMC experiment has been proposed for the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover mission, which is planned for launch in 2013. The LMC experiment is in the development phase and is led by an international consortium with researchers including Andrew Steele, a staff member of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory in the United States, and scientists from the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and Germany.
For the current mission, the consortium developed a tiny component, measuring only 1.5 inches x 1.6 inches x .5 inch ( 3.8 cm x 4.1 cm x 1.3 cm) and housing over 2000 samples, to test that the key molecular components to be used in the LMC technology can survive the rigors of space.
The experiment was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as part of the European Space Agency’s BIOPAN-6 experiment platform. The LMC components will experience both weightlessness and the harsh space radiation environment while orbiting the Earth 180 times at an altitude of up to 190 miles (308 km) during the 11.8 day mission.
The BIOPAN-6 platform is mounted on the outside of an un-manned Russian FOTON spacecraft. Once in space the BIOPAN-6 platform will open to expose its contents directly to the space environment, testing both their resistance to space radiation and the space vacuum, before closing and returning to Earth on September 25th. The LMC components will then be taken back to laboratories in the United Kingdom and the United States to analyze the effect of the space flight.
The lead members of the consortium involved in the current mission are Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) (Germany), Cranfield University (UK), Carnegie Institution of Washington (USA) and University of Leicester (UK).
Dr. Andrew Steele from the Carnegie Institution of Washington (USA) and one of the initial experiment proposers said, “in the USA we are currently flying related technology and components within the protected environment of the International Space Station (ISS) but this will be the first time that these types of materials will have flown unprotected in space in a manner similar to a flight to Mars.”
Dr. Lutz Richter of DLR (Germany) and the principal investigator for the current experiment said, “This experiment is the culmination of a number of years of hard work and ground based tests to prove the viability of the LMC technology.”
Dr. David Cullen, from Cranfield University (UK) and who leads the scientific input into the current experiment, said, “this will be our first space experiment to demonstrate our belief that immunoassay technology will have an important future role in space exploration and the search for life elsewhere in the Solar System.”
Dr. Mark Sims from the University of Leicester (UK) and who heads the overall LMC project said, “this mission will be an important stepping stone in our ultimate goal of putting a LMC experiment on the surface of Mars and using it to search for evidence of Life.”
Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
NASA's fermi finds possible dark matter ties in andromeda galaxy
22.02.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
22.02.2017 | Life Sciences
22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy