Thursday, February 6, 2014

Finding Life in the Universe in Bits and Pieces

NASA  has found a new way to search for signs of extraterrestrial life and the origins of life in every piece of space dust they can get their nanoelectrospray emitter on.  They have discovered in some meteorites, fragments of amino acids which make up life giving proteins and components used to make DNA along with other important molecules that make up biological entities! However, the amount of these molecules in the rare meteorites have been barely anything to kickstart a living biological being as we know it.

Research scientists, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, have been studying the effects small extraterrestrial dust particles may have had on the beginning stages of Earth. Even though the dust particles are smaller than the meteorites, they actually could have provided larger quantities of the life producing molecules than the larger meteorites themselves and at a steadier pace.

At Goddard's Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory they have developed advanced technology to study these extremely small samples from space. Below is a picture of the nanoelectrospray emitter which gives molecule samples an electric charge and transfers them to the inlet of the mass spectrometer, which then identifies the molecules by their mass O____0

image credit: Michael Callahan
With this technology, future meteorite samples can be analyzed including samples from Mars and icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

So to put this all into perspective; I don't want to jump to conclusions or anything but, it seems as though the universe has pieces of life-clay floating around and anyone can just grab enough of it and start sculpting things with it like dinosaurs, humans, animals, alien grays, who knows whats out there!