Advances in analytical and detection capabilities will help people discover and understand the other life forms in the universe. However, these come with a high price of intensive expertise and technology.

Although scientists know the discovery of alien life would be a game-changing event for humanity, the search has failed. But with the new tools capable of knowing molecular biosignatures, will these allow them to look for other lives throughout the universe, whatever its form?

Across the many living kingdoms, all organisms produce proteins, pigments, lipids, and other molecules that emit a telltale glow when excited by distinct light wavelengths. Every organism is different, each constructed of unique elements. Hence, they can be differentiated when identified. With the newly developed tools and technology, it can be easy to detect extraterrestrial life when encountered – a massive step to proving whether they exist.


Scientists suggest that this tool is, by far, the best one to help humanity discover remnants of any lifeform outside Earth. While this isn’t guaranteed to provide a consensus on whether the figure it catches on camera is an alien, the development of this tool is still a massive step in this journey. The finder can still provide evidence for any living organism outside Earth – a significant progress to the long-standing query.


This tool uses laser-induced fluorescence imaging to spot signs of life. It can be comparable and similar to what the finder does, but the OrganiCam adds a chemical analysis technique called Raman spectroscopy. This technique uses a laser to know the target’s molecular composition.

The Mars Organic Detector (MOD)

This instrument has been developed to search for traces of vital organic compounds, amino acids/amines. MOD is based on the following concepts:

  1. Amino acids and PAHs can be directly sublimed from biological samples by heating them to 450°C under a partial vacuum. This eliminates using aqueous reagents and organic solvents used in laboratory analyses.
  2. Sublimed amino acids condensed on a cold finger coated with a reagent specific for amino acids can be detected at very high sensitivities using UV fluorescence.
  3. Sublimed PAHs can be directly seen on the cold finger because they are naturally fluorescent when exposed to UV light.


It is an instrument developed to search directly on the Martian surface. PAHs are also readily sublime under the same conditions used for amino acids. Sublimed PAHs can now be detected on the cold finger without derivatization reagents because these compounds are incredibly fluorescent when irradiated near UV light. Detection limits are in the femtomole (10-15 mole) range.

Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes (SETG)

Scientists and researchers conducted a study to detect the possibility of life on Earth coming from Martian organisms brought by objects such as meteors. This study’s basis is that viable microbes can be transferred between different planets and adapt to the new environment. An example of this adaptability can be observed from the first organism reproducing using arsenic in its cells.

The NASA team isolated the bacteria from Mono Lake, CA, due to its alkalinity, high salinity, and arsenic levels. Their data showed evidence for arsenate instead of the usual phosphate in the macromolecules. These studies are gradually changing people’s perception of the chemicals people need to live, thus, changing their insight into what to look for on other planets.

In Closing

In the coming decades, state-of-the-art spacecraft-based instruments that can detect critical components associated with life as we know it on Earth will directly search for extinct or extant extraterrestrial life in our solar system. Advances in our analytical and detection capabilities, whether on micro or macro scale technologies, will be significant in enhancing the abilities of these instruments.

Remote sensing investigations of the atmospheres of extrasolar planets could provide evidence of photosynthetic-based life outside our solar system, although less advanced life will remain undetectable by these methods. Finding evidence of extraterrestrial life would have profound consequences concerning our understanding of chemical and biological evolution and whether the biochemistry on Earth is unique in the universe.

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