NASA Unveils Laptop Lab For Space Exploration

Dec. 8, 2015
NASA researchers develop a laptop-sized, portable laboratory for on-the-go analysis of living organisms.

A miniature laboratory, about the size of a laptop, may one day aid the search for evidence of life on other planets, according to an article from ChemistryWorld. The device, developed by researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is designed for on-the-go analysis of samples of molecules associated with living organisms. The “chemical laptop” may also serve a role in other applications such as environmental monitoring or detecting counterfeit drugs.

In NASA’s invention, capillary electrophoresis is used to separate the different components in a sample, according to the article. Fluorescent dyes help determine what is in the sample and the quantity, a process that takes about a minute. NASA’s eventual goal is to make the portable laboratory mountable on a space rover driven on planetary bodies like Mars or Europa. Until that time, the device is still expected to benefit analytical chemists for more general purpose operations.

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