The astrobiology lab at HMC dedicated the summer of 2011 to prototyping a Laser Induced Fluorescence Emission (L.I.F.E.) imaging spectrometer “to identify the presence of living organisms within rock and ice. The system, which provides an economical way to study samples without destroying them, may one day be used to identify life on other planets.” Watch the following video for more information.
Over the summer 2013, the HMC Astrobiology lab (also known as the Extravehicular Instrument Laboratory – EVIL) partnered with HMC’s Lab for Autonomous and Intelligent Robotics (LAIR) to document a project exploring life in lava tubes in the Mojave Desert. LAIR’s Jaguar Lite robots produced a map of a lava tube, while EVIL’s Pandora scanned the walls of the desert caves in search for signs of life using Laser Induced Fluorescence Emission (LIFE) spectroscopy. The effort is part of an ongoing project to develop an autonomous system capable of exploring lava tubes on Mars and one day exoplanets beyond the reach of human exploration.