Partenaires

CNRS


Rechercher


Accueil > Publications > Recherche par années > Années 2000 > 2000

Westall, F ; Brack, A ; Hofmann, B ; Horneck, G ; Kurat, G ; Maxwell, J ; Ori, GG ; Pillinger, C ; Raulin, F ; Thamas, N ; Fitton, B ; Clancy, P ; Prieur, D ; Vassaux, D

An ESA study for the search for life on Mars

Planetary and Space Science 48 (2-3) 181-202

par Administrateur - publié le

Abstract :

Similarities in the early histories of Mars and Earth suggest the possibility that life may have arisen on Mars as it did on Earth. If this were the case, early deterioration of the environment on Mars (loss of surface water, decrease in temperature) may have inhibited further evolution of life. Thus, life on Mars would probably be similar to the simplest form of life on Earth, the prokaryotes. We present a hypothetical strategy to search for life on Mars consisting of (i) identifying a suitable landing site with good exobiological potential, and (ii) searching for morphological and biogeochemical signatures of extinct and extant life on the surface, in the regolith subsurface, and within rocks. The platform to be used in this theoretical exercise is an integrated, multi-user instrument package, distributed between a lander and rover, which will observe and analyse surface and subsurface samples to obtain the following information : 1. environmental data concerning the surface geology and mineralogy, UV radiation and oxidation processes ; 2. macroscopic to microscopic morphological evidence of life ; 3. biogeochemistry indicative of the presence of extinct or extant life ; 4. niches for extant life. Lastly, the rationale for human exploration of Mars will be addressed. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.