NASA’s new DNA sequencer on the ISS could be used on aliens | ExtremeTech: "The MinION operates a bit differently than DNA sequencers on Earth, but that’s by design. NASA wants to be prepared for any kind of sample, even an alien one. When a sample is loaded into the MinION, it will encounter a barrier filled with small pores (nanopores) that allow charged particles (i.e. ions, that’s where the MinION gets its name) to pass through. This creates an electrical current that the device reads. When a larger molecule like DNA enters the channel, it reduces the current. That pattern can then be used to determine the sequence of the molecule."