An Astrobiology Strategy for the Exploration of Mars by National Research Council, Division on Earth and Life

By National Research Council, Division on Earth and Life Studies, Board on Life Sciences, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, Space Studies Board, Committee on an Astrobiology Strategy for the Exploration of Mars

3 fresh advancements have vastly elevated curiosity within the look for existence on Mars. the 1st is new information regarding the Martian setting together with facts of a watery prior and the potential for atmospheric methane. the second one is the potential of microbial viability on Mars. eventually, the imaginative and prescient for area Exploration initiative incorporated an specific directive to look for the proof of lifestyles on Mars. those medical and political advancements led NASA to request the NRC's guidance in formulating an updated built-in astrobiology approach for Mars exploration. between different themes, this record provides a overview of present wisdom approximately attainable existence on Mars; an astrobiological overview of present Mars missions; a overview of Mars-mission planetary safeguard; and findings and suggestions. The file notes that the best raise in realizing of Mars will come from the gathering and go back to Earth of a well-chosen suite of Martian floor fabrics.

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50 In retrospect, the Viking mission could be criticized as reaching too far too soon. In the late 1960s when the mission was conceived, knowledge of conditions on the martian surface was rudimentary. Speculations on the prospects for life were based largely on telescopic observations. Little information was available on the surface conditions and on where best to land in order to look for life. It could also be argued that the experiments were narrowly designed to detect a limited spectrum of terran life.

These characteristics can be interpreted as suggesting that a mixture of sediment and a fluid with the properties of liquid water emerged from the crater wall and ran down through a preexisting gully channel within the last 5 years. These images were taken with the Mars Orbiter Camera on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft and are courtesy of NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems. THE PRESENT STATE OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT MARS AND POSSIBLE LIFE 23 belief that Mars was warmer in the Noachian than it is today is also supported by the finding of evaporites at the Mars Exploration Rover landing site on Meridiani Planum and elsewhere, by evidence for fluctuation of the water table at Meridiani, by detection of clay minerals from orbit in Noachian terrains, by the presence of hydrothermally altered rocks in the Columbia Hills at the Mars Exploration Rover landing site in Gusev crater, and by surface erosion rates that were 4 to 5 orders of magnitude higher than they were subsequently.

61,62 The conflicting results of these studies illustrate the potential pitfalls in collecting and interpreting data from the ancient geological record. 63 The morphological identification of these tiny dark clumps was always controversial, given that the range of bacterial morphologies at their simplest are ambiguous to interpret; bacteria have little morphology to begin with. , 67 based on reexamination of the chert sections of the original study. Many of the “microfossils”were observed to have branched morphologies inconsistent with filamentous bacteria.

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