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Nov. 11, 2010

Dream Job: Astrobiologist

by Leslie Taylor


Video by NASAexplorer

In this video, Inge ten Kate talks about the origin of life, the VAPoR instrument, and how her job gives her the opportunity to be both a scientist and an engineer.

A NASA news story explains the instrument that Dr. ten Kate works on:

The final version will be called VAPoR, for Volatile Analysis by Pyrolysis of Regolith, NASA-speak for heating up soil and analyzing the gases. The prototype contains tiny ovens that gradually heat samples to more than 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1400 degrees Celsius). As the temperature rises, different compounds vaporize and are directed into a mass spectrometer, which separates and identifies atoms and molecules based on their weight and electric charge.

This winter, Dr. ten Kate led an expedition into a cinder cone atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii, to test the VAPoR prototype.

Read Dr. ten Kate's blog about her trips to field test the VAPOR prototype at http://vapor-fieldtesting.blogspot.com

Find NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Facebook

About Leslie Taylor

Leslie is the online editor at Workboat.com and NationalFisherman.com. She has a background in oceanography and is passionate about getting non-scientists and young people to realize how cool science can be. She is also Science Friday's former web editor.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.

 

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