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NASA Grants $7 mn For New Life Detection

"We're working to transform how to measure biosignatures, or signs of life, in and outside of our solar system," Graham said

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NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Nasa's Opportunity rover might have 'died' on Mars. Flickr

NASA has awarded nearly $7 million for a fresh interdisciplinary project to detect new, non-Earth-like life on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn’s icy moons.

The Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures (LAB) will lay the groundwork for characterising potential biosignatures, or signs of life, a statement late on Sunday said.

LAB’s initial research focus is on four features of life that do not assume any specific biochemistry, and will branch out from these concepts to build a framework for looking for life “as we don’t know it”.

These features include: patterns of chemical complexity, surface complexity, chemical disequilibrium with the surrounding environment, and evidence of energy transfer.

These indicators of life were chosen since they can be framed in a way that doesn’t bias observations toward the specific forms of life on Earth and are methods that could be implemented on flight missions, the statement noted.

NASA, gamma-ray collection
“Detecting life in an agnostic fashion means not using characteristics particular to Earth life,” said Heather Graham at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Pixabay

The LAB is a consortium of 15 team members from universities and institutions around the world constituting of planetary scientists, biologists, chemists, computer scientists, mathematicians and veteran instrument scientists.

“Our goal is to go beyond what we currently understand and devise ways to find forms of life we can scarcely imagine,” principal investigator Sarah Stewart Johnson from Georgetown University, said in the statement.

The team of investigators will lay the groundwork for characterising potential biosignatures that do not presuppose any particular molecular framework, as well as design tools for their detection and strategies for interpretation.

Also Read- Astronomers Found Ancient Star Formed By Big Bang

“Detecting life in an agnostic fashion means not using characteristics particular to Earth life,” said Heather Graham at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“We’re working to transform how to measure biosignatures, or signs of life, in and outside of our solar system,” Graham said. (IANS)

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NASA Partnering with 10 Start-ups to Develop New Technologies For Space

"Industry is developing new technologies rapidly, using new tools and methods in software development and other areas,"

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NASA researchers have created the atmosphere of a super-hot planet outside our solar system, here on Earth. Pixabay

NASA is inviting applications from start-ups to take part in a three-month pilot programme to develop new technologies for space.

Applications will be accepted till April 7 and a total of 10 companies will be selected for the programme, the US space agency said.

The accelerator programme will focus on technologies that can be applied to space — including geospatial analytics, digital design coupled to advanced manufacturing, autonomous systems, applied Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

NASA
NASA Administrator James Bridenstine delivers remarks as he tours the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. VOA

“We want to assist these companies in developing their own technologies and becoming commercial successes. NASA will also benefit by collaborating with these companies,” said Tom Cwik, Manager of the Space Technology Office at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

Based in Los Angeles, the accelerator programme begins on July 15. After developing their concepts and business plans over a three-month period, the teams will then pitch their results to the NASA community, co-sponsors and private investors at a demo day in October, NASA said.

Also Read- Intel May Introduce New Processors in Q2

“Industry is developing new technologies rapidly, using new tools and methods in software development and other areas,” said Cwik.

“It’s incumbent upon us to learn from developments in industry and contribute our vast expertise in technology as we prepare to use them in our future missions,” Cwik added. (IANS)