Planetary Science Division / Science Mission Directorate
Future Instrument Technologies
- Identification of regions of concentrated potential biological material from orbit or flyby is needed to determine the most promising regions for further exploration by landers or rovers.
- Sample extraction from plumes and cryogenic ices, particularly if the sampling must be done at km depths.
- Sample processing, which is dependent both on the matrix being analyzed and the characterization technique being used.
- Spacecraft instruments that can characterize polymers – particularly polymers of arbitrary structure.
- Detection of microorganisms that are very sparsely distributed in a matrix
- Detection of chemical processes indicative of life such as information transfer, highly specific catalysis, and micro-environments in which the chemistry is tightly controlled. Although alien molecules that perform these functions may differ from terrestrial, it is likely that they will carry out these functions.