NASA’s chemical laptop to search for alien life

In a bid to find concrete evidence of life outside Earth, NASA is developing a `chemical laptop’ the first portable, miniaturized laboratory built to detect both amino and fatty acids on other worlds. The battery-powered device analyses samples for materials associated with life.


Like a tricorder from Star Trek, the chemical laptop is roughly the size of a regular laptop, but much thicker to make room for chemical analysis components. But unlike a tricorder, it has to ingest a sample to analyze it, NASA said.

“It is a chemical analyzer that can be reprogrammed like a laptop to perform different functions. As on a regular laptop, we have different apps for different analyses like amino acids and fatty acids,” said Fernanda Mora, a technologist.

Some scientists hypothesize that life on Earth evolved to use just left-handed amino acids because that standard was adopted early in life’s history. It is possible that life on other worlds might use the right-handed kind.