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Perspectives on the Future Search for Life on Mars and BeyondOne can view the search for life on Mars in two ways: first, as the initial step in the search for life elsewhere, and second, as the one place where in situ methods for life detection can be tested and proved via sample return. After Mars, most of the life detection will he done via in situ studies with data return. Mars offers us the opportunity to fine tune our methods - perhaps for a long time to come. Our group is involved in the development of methods for life detection that are independent of specific signals used for detection of life on Earth. These approaches include general indicators of metabolic activity and organismal structure and composition. Using such approaches, we hope to detect the signals of life (biosignatures) that are independent of preconceived notions and yet are convincing and unambiguous. The approaches we are focusing on include stable isotopic analyses of metals, mineral formation and disolution, and elemental analysis. These methods allow us to examine samples at a variety of scales, looking for nonequilibrium distribution of elements that serve as biosignatures. For futures studies of Mars and beyond, they, or some variation of them, should allow inference or proof of life in non-Earth locations.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Document Type
Nealson, K. H.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1998
Publication Information
Publication: Workshop on the Issue Martian Meteorites: Where do we Stand and Where are we Going?
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Exploration
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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