Planets and Moons  ID: 12962

Searching for Signs of Life on Mars

One of the biggest questions in planetary science is whether life ever arose on Mars, and NASA is sending a cutting-edge instrument to the Red Planet to find out. The Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer, or MOMA, is a sophisticated suite of technologies that squeezes a lab full of chemistry equipment into a package the size of a toaster. In 2020, MOMA will be launched to Mars aboard the European Space Agency's ExoMars rover, on a mission to scour rocks and soil from the Martian surface and subsurface for evidence of life.

MOMA will not only search for organic molecules, which make up all life on Earth, it will also analyze their structure using its linear ion trap – the first use of this technology on Mars. Doing so will help scientists to determine whether the molecules could be of biological origin, marking a significant leap forward in the search for life beyond Earth.

MOMA's mass spectrometer subsystem and main electronics were built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The pulsed UV laser and high-temperature ovens were developed in Germany, and the gas chromatograph in France. ExoMars is the primary Mars exploration program of the European Space Agency.

Learn more at The animations of MOMA that appear in this video are available for download.

Source Material


For More Information


William Brinckerhoff (NASA/GSFC): Lead Scientist
Veronica Pinnick (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Dan Gallagher (USRA): Producer
Krystofer Kim (USRA): Animator
Joy Ng (USRA): Narrator
Dan Gallagher (USRA): Writer
Dan Gallagher (USRA): Editor
William Steigerwald (NASA/GSFC): Science Writer
Rob Andreoli (AIMM): Lead Videographer
John Caldwell (AIMM): Videographer
Patrick Kimvilakani (NASA/GSFC): Engineer
Ricardo Arevalo (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Matthew R. Radcliff (USRA): Support
Aaron E. Lepsch (ADNET): Technical Support
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Short URL to share this page:

ExoMars Rover

This item is part of this series:
Narrated Movies

SVS >> Laser
SVS >> Mars
SVS >> Mass Spectrometry
SVS >> Rover
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons
SVS >> Mass Spectrometer
SVS >> Gas Chromatograph
SVS >> Laser Desorption
SVS >> Organic
SVS >> Molecule
SVS >> Analyzer
SVS >> ExoMars