Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The red planet – Dead or alive?

15.06.2004


Is there – or has there ever been – life on Mars? A UK project could help provide the answer to this fascinating question.



The team are working to improve the equipment on space probes which is used to try and identify evidence of life on other planets.

The work is focusing on the development of more effective and robust systems for detecting ’biomarkers’. (’Biomarkers’ are molecules that indicate the existence of current or extinct life.)


Researchers at Cranfield University are carrying out the work, together with space instrument scientists at the University of Leicester. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded the project.

Current methods of detecting biomarkers are of limited effectiveness because they use biological receptors which can be fragile when facing the extreme environmental conditions involved in exploration work. This EPSRC-funded project sets out to demonstrate alternative approaches that offer greater flexibility for the detection of different biomarker molecules.

The team focused on improving biosensor technology by using innovative artificial molecular receptors to replace the more common, and less robust biological receptors. This could lead to the inclusion of far more effective biomarker sensors on future missions to Mars and other places in the Solar System where it is currently thought that life might exist or have existed in the past.

An instrument design - SMILE (Specific Molecular Identification of Life Experiment) - resulting from this research has already been selected for further consideration by the European Space Agency for the proposed ExoMars rover due for launch in 2009.

The central component of the project was the demonstration of how the concepts and technologies used for the production of biological (i.e. DNA-based and protein-based) molecular receptors can be adapted to create micro-sensor arrays for biomarkers. The inclusion of robust artificial molecular receptors, rather than the typical DNA-based or protein-based receptors, enables the targeting of biomarkers as well as improved receptor stability designed to cope with the extreme environments that would be encountered during a mission to Mars.

Dr David Cullen of Cranfield University’s Institute of Bioscience and Technology led the research. He says: "Our work represents a significant step forward in the search for extraterrestrial biomarkers. Producing technology to develop a more effective biomarker detection system will have a huge impact on our understanding of how life originates and evolves."

Jane Reck | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.epsrc.ac.uk

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Better thermal conductivity by adjusting the arrangement of atoms

Adjusting the thermal conductivity of materials is one of the challenges nanoscience is currently facing. Together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Spain, researchers from the University of Basel have shown that the atomic vibrations that determine heat generation in nanowires can be controlled through the arrangement of atoms alone. The scientists will publish the results shortly in the journal Nano Letters.

In the electronics and computer industry, components are becoming ever smaller and more powerful. However, there are problems with the heat generation. It is...

Im Focus: First-ever visualizations of electrical gating effects on electronic structure

Scientists have visualised the electronic structure in a microelectronic device for the first time, opening up opportunities for finely-tuned high performance electronic devices.

Physicists from the University of Warwick and the University of Washington have developed a technique to measure the energy and momentum of electrons in...

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

USF geoscientists discover mechanisms controlling Greenland ice sheet collapse

22.07.2019 | Earth Sciences

Heat flow through single molecules detected

19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Heat transport through single molecules

19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>