Is there life on the moon? What about other worlds? With the United States preparing to launch its first voyage to the moon in 50 years, the University of Virginia and NASA's Artemis space missions hope to address important issues like these while expanding the breadth of what may be studied on foreign lands. The new joint research will take the shape of a ground-level roaming probe. Of course, it won't be finished in time for the maiden unmanned launch. Instead, the technology might be used on a future moon trip and even beyond. The space agency is also considering sending humans to Mars.
The primary aim of this NASA-funded study, according to engineering professor and senior investigator Mool Gupta, will be to acquire biological and elemental signs, as well as identify surface morphology, to assess whether there was any life. Certain chemical compositions might reveal whether or not there was life present. Scanning may also reveal traces of biological life in the form of cells. But that's only scraping the surface.
The scientists seek to learn more about the terrain's general composition, particularly its subsurface, and how it has changed. UVA's long history of photonics strength will be critical.
MOCAPS is the abbreviation for Gupta's ambitious initiative. This is an abbreviation for "Miniaturized, Multifunctional, Microscopic Organic/Inorganic Composition Analytical Probe for Planetary in situ Spectroscopy." Essentially, he and his colleagues are building a scientific instrument for an autonomous mini-rover. The optical probe's head will scan the environment for rocks, ice, and other ground materials.
The tiny, tube-like head will be less than an ounce in weight. Small size is vital for saving room on the plane and energy while in flight. Although the probe will travel, it is unlikely that it will collect actual stuff. All data will be sent electronically and in real-time to NASA. The information will be obtained via the probe's head, which will use laser spectrometry to detect mineral elements and an auto-focusing lens capable of taking ultra-high-resolution photographs at the tiny level.
According to Gupta, the spectrometer would operate at a high sensitivity level of one part per billion. This will also be the first probe to provide a tiny picture, allowing you to achieve human-hair resolution.
Because there is no atmosphere, the moon cannot support any type of life that does not bring its own adapting technology. That is why astronauts dress in spacesuits. However, according to research published in the journal Astrobiology in 2018, conditions favorable to at least simple lifeforms such as bacteria may have existed on the moon during two periods when the Earth's natural satellite most likely did have an atmosphere, but both occurred billions of years ago. Active bacteria, for example, may have flourished in pools of water.
Understanding historical and present situations, especially where life may have flourished and how it might have thrived, according to Gupta, will be critical in preparing for the future.
In terms of practicality, future moon colonists would need to carry more than simply extra supplies, such as a greenhouse for producing food; they would also need to understand the sort of soil they are working with and how its composition changes over time.
According to Gupta, if they sent up plants, the plants would plainly be unable to flourish in the cold. They would have to build a balloon-like atmosphere, and the mineral nutrients would have to be extracted from the soil and used as needed.
However, the moon will not be an end in itself for MOCAPS. It will also serve as a testing ground for more difficult settings throughout the solar system.