The extraterrestrial forms of life may be partly or significantly different from earthly, and methods based on the search as biosologists of certain molecules may be unsuitable for the detection of creatures that have passed another path of development. The team of researchers from Japan and the United States applied machine learning technique, which, in combination with mass spectrometry, allows us to classify the complex organic, whatever its origin.
There are several ways that modern astronomers are used to search for extraterrestrial life. You can listen to radio signals from deep space, search
The main method of searching for traces of life with the help of descent devices — mass spectrometry. It allows you to simultaneously measure the many components in samples and identify a kind of «imprint». Nevertheless, it is difficult to interpret the results of this analysis,
Moreover, natural chemical processes are also capable of producing many of the bricks of biological molecules. Since we still did not find a sample of extraterrestrial life, a conceptual paradox arises: we do not know whether life has developed in the Universe for the same laws as on earth, so we cannot say with confidence that the molecule found on another planet does not indicate extraterrestrial life.
A group of scientists under the leadership of specialists from the Tokyo Technological Institute decided to approach this problem using a combination of two methods. By applying the method of resonant mass spectrometry with Fourier transformation (FT-ICR MS), they measured the spectrum of the mass of a large number of complex organic molecules, including obtained from nebiological samples, organics from meteorites grown in the microorganisms laboratory and untreated oil. These samples contain tens of thousands of individual molecular compounds.
After downloading this data in the machine learning algorithm, the researchers found that he was able to classify samples on belonging to biological and nebiological species with an accuracy of about 95%. It is important to emphasize that before that, they have significantly simplified the raw data so that they turn out to be similar to the collected using the tools installed on board the spacecraft.
The study of scientists opens up many interesting options for using mass spectrometry in astrobiology.
A year ago NASA.
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