The German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG) has awarded the Leibniz Institute for Photonic Technologies (Leibniz IPHT) the Community Prize for the idea of telling the story of how researchers across national borders develop light-based solutions for space exploration in a science comic. The prize money will be used to take the superhero Lasergirl on a new adventure.

With the superhero comic „Lasergirl in Search of Extraterrestrial Life,“ Leibniz IPHT wants to illustrate how research can help decipher information about other planets. In the comic adventure, Lasergirl sets out on a journey to Mars to track down and detect extraterrestrial life with the help of her technological equipment – and thus achieve the scientific goals of the European Mars mission ExoMars. The comic heroine’s superpower really does exist: light, or photonic technologies developed by researchers in Jena and Europe.

The background to this is the use of a Raman laser spectrometer, researched with the participation of Leibniz IPHT, in the ExoMars mission in 2022. Together with a European consortium, Leibniz IPHT and the University of Jena are working on an optical instrument that uses the photonic technology Raman spectroscopy to search for a molecular fingerprint of organic matter on Mars.

The Community Prize makes it possible to realize the science comic. „We are thrilled that our superheroine will soon be able to embark on her second mission. After Lasergirl last hunted down a killer germ in the human body, she is now traveling to Mars to track down extraterrestrial life there with the help of her technological equipment,“ says Daniel Siegesmund, author of „Lasergirl – Hunt for the Killer Germ“ and head of the Public Relations and Research Marketing Department at Leibniz-IPHT.

With the science comic, Leibniz IPHT wants to inform, educate, entertain and inspire for „Research in Germany“. This is intended to sharpen Germany’s reputation as a highly innovative and future-oriented research landscape and, in particular, to highlight Jena as a research location with a focus on optics and photonics.


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