is there life on mars? as jay gormley reports, a university of texas chemistry professor is working on an invention that has caught the attention of nasa... and it might answer that question. when nasa came calling on chemistry professor, sandy dasgupta, they really came calling. purnendu dasgupta/
uta chemistry professor "my initial reaction was... god, i don't have to go hunting for money." nasa has provided the
ut-arlington professor with a $1.2 million grant to develop a specialized instrument that could possibly detect the beginning stages of life on mars. purnendu dasgupta/
uta chemistry professor "people have been asking this question, whether there is life on mars. life is a big question. short of that, are there organics on mars which are the first building blocks." professor dasgupta is looking for those building blocks in the soil on mars. the grant will help him develop an instrument that can identify a broad range of ions. purnendu dasgupta/
uta chemistry professor "we'll be finding things that we were not necessarily looking for. so there are lots of surprises in store." in theory... soil form mars would be dissolved in water and then flushed through a tiny tube. "this is a tube. it looks like a fishing line, but it's actually a tube." the idea is to separate the ions in the soil. those ions could be the key to determining life on mars actually exists. it's no wonder that
uta grad student, phillip shelor is thrilled to be part of the research. phillip shelor/
uta grad student - research asst. "and so it will be great to have some sort of form in hand in actually discovering the building blocks on mars for life." the professor's instrument will be tested on earth for at least four years, with a goal of sending it to mars by 2020. jay gormley reporting. before the instrument is launched, it will be tested on earth in a desert in northern chile.