A microscope for life detection is a top candidate instrument for ocean world and other planetary missions. Microscopes developed for ocean, earth, and space exploration have significant overlap; with analog terrestrial environments offering excellent settings to test techniques potential for space application.
In this talk I will introduce basic principles of microscopic imaging and discuss the application of microscopes for life detection and environmental exploration. I will then present several different microscopic imaging systems developed for both oceanographic exploration and planetary missions. This will include details on a submersible digital holographic microscope (DHM) being developed for the underwater robot Icefin, results from benthic underwater microscopes used to observe seafloor organisms, and towed systems for imaging plankton. At then end of this talk I hope you will have a better understanding of the capabilities of microscopes, their history of use in space and ocean applications, and future potential.