A research scientist at NASA Goddard has developed a lidar-based sensor technology that can detect organic compounds which would be an indicator of life as we know it, now or in the past.
Once on another planet, the device, which the team calls the Bio-Indicator Lidar Instrument (BILI), will search for plumes of dust from its perch atop a mast on a rover. When it finds a viable dust sample, it will pulse UV light from two lasers through it and study the way the particles glow in response. That can alert the scientists back on Earth to the presence of organic particles, their size, and even how recently they may have been created.
The key is to develop a library of bio – lidar signatures here on Earth for the compounds and their concentrations.
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