Friday, May 8, 2009

'Star Trek' Tricorder Scans For Life On Space Station

Astronaut Suni Williams, Expedition 14/15 flight engineer, works with the Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development-Portable Test System (LOCAD-PTS). Williams is placing the sample mixed with water from the swabbing unit into the LOCAD-PTS cartridge. Credit: NASA

From Live Science:

Astronauts on the space station have their own version of the "Star Trek" tricorder to search for signs of life, whether that life is from Earth or of extraterrestrial origin – at least if it's life as we know it. The real device appears to be similar in size and basic purpose to the one in the new movie, which opens Friday in the United States.

The handheld device acts as a miniature biology lab that allows space station residents to get results on a display screen within 15 minutes, after swabbing whatever surface they care to sample and mixing the swabbed material with liquid.

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