For the past 10 years, Venkateswaran has been developing alternative molecular detection instruments for the rapid discovery of microorganisms on NASA spacecraft, hoping to speed up the construction process. With culture tests, tissue samples are placed in a petri dish, and nutrients slowly encourage the growth of abnormal substances, e.g. microbes. But with Venkateswaran’s technique, tissue samples are placed in a specialized instrument, which analyzes the cells and detects the presence of microbial DNA. And rather than taking 14 days, the machine only needs a day or two to collect all the information it needs.