Biotechnology for solar system exploration: Applications of life detection technology on Earth and in space

Andrew Steele, Jake Maule, Jan Toporski, Victor Parro Garcia, Carlos Briones, Mary Schweitzer, David Mckay, Lindy McLandress, Duane Pierson, Mark Ott, Seth Pincus, Juan Perez Mercader, Carl Allen, Recep Avci, Judd Hedgecock, Rachel Roberston, Everett Gibson, John Lyndsay, Huw Rowlands, Frances WestallDavid Wynn-Williams, Iwona Beech

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


With the advent of a new era of astrobiology missions to search our
solar system for evidence of life we would like to again present a new
approach to this goal. We have reviewed the current list of Biotechnology
techniques, which are applicable to miniaturization and integration into
a combined flight platform. Among the techniques reviewed are:
The uses of antibodies
Fluorescent detection strategies
Protein and DNA chip technology
Surface plasmon resonance and its relation to other techniques
Microelectronic machining (where applicable)
Nanotechnology (where applicable)
Laboratory on a chip technology (including PCR)
Mass spectrometry
Fluid handling and extraction technologies
Chemical force microscopy (CFM)
Raman spectroscopy
Nanotechnology (i.e. molecular motors).

We have begun to integrate this knowledge into a single flight instrument
approach for the sole purpose of combining several mutually confirming
tests for life, organic}microbial contamination, prebiotic and abiotic
organic chemicals.

We will present several innovative designs for new instrumentation
including pro-engineering design drawings of a protein chip reader for
space flight and fluid handling strategies. We will also review the use of
suitable extraction methodologies for use on different solar system
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2002


  • Life detection
  • Space exploration
  • Astrobiology

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