NASA funds search for past life on Mars

January 18, 2007

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has awarded a $750,000 grant to a U.S. researcher for help in searching for evidence of past life on Mars.

NASA is funding the work by University of California-Santa Barbara organic chemist Luann Becker to further develop the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer -- an instrument nicknamed MOMA that will search for the remnants of life on Mars.

The analyzer -- a mass spectrometer -- will examine soil samples taken from up to 6 1/2 feet below the surface of Mars. It will be one of a suite of 10 instruments in the European Space Agency's ExoMars "Pasteur" payload, scheduled to arrive on Mars in 2013.

Becker is the principal investigator of a team that includes French and German scientists, as well as two co-investigators from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

NASA said ExoMars is to be launched from the Kourou space port in French Guiana and will deploy a highly mobile rover equipped with a drill to provide the first subsurface vertical profile of Mars.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: One year and counting: Mars isolation experiment begins

Related Stories

SpaceVR aims toward a VR camera in space

August 11, 2015

SpaceVR is a virtual reality platform set to share live 3D, 360 degree content from the International Space Station (ISS) so that anyone with virtual reality gear can feel like an astronaut. The company was founded in January ...

Earth's extremes point the way to extraterrestrial life

August 26, 2015

Bizarre creatures that go years without water. Others that can survive the vacuum of open space. Some of the most unusual organisms found on Earth provide insights for Washington State University planetary scientist Dirk ...

Recommended for you

At Saturn, one of these rings is not like the others

September 2, 2015

When the sun set on Saturn's rings in August 2009, scientists on NASA's Cassini mission were watching closely. It was the equinox—one of two times in the Saturnian year when the sun illuminates the planet's enormous ring ...

Prawn Nebula: Cosmic recycling

September 2, 2015

Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later ...

Comet Hitchhiker would take tour of small bodies

September 2, 2015

Catching a ride from one solar system body to another isn't easy. You have to figure out how to land your spacecraft safely and then get it on its way to the next destination. The landing part is especially tricky for asteroids ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.