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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Holographic Microbes

Holographic Microbes

Geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus (credit: JPL/Caltech)


What may be the most direct way to find exobiology, life beyond Earth, in our solar system? The use of a 'rapid assessments for biological diversity', as a screen allowing a quick determination of presence or absence of a species, could be one approach. But how to do that from millions of miles distant?

The always clever researchers at CalTech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory believe it would be possible to initially make a holographic survey of a moon or planet without having to send a rover to the surface. They propose to fly an orbiting spacecraft through water geyser plumes being ejected from icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn and collect water samples during each pass. The probe would orbit Enceladus (Saturn) or Europa (Jupiter) to collect water samples and search for life. It would be outfitted with a digital holographic microscope, that uses lasers to create 3D holograms, to visualize simple microbes. The CalTech inventor of the holographic microscope believes it would be an quick way to determine the existence or not of microbiology in the water samples.

Let's get those new microscopes launched to see if anything is living in those distant icy ponds! WHB

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