Field Exploration and Life Detection Sampling through Planetary Analogue Research (FELDSPAR)

Amanda M. Stockton, Georgia Tech, US

Tuesday, 15 June 2021, 16:00 CEST (14:00 UTC)

Exploration missions to Mars rely on orbiters to collect large-scale data, and landed missions are constrained to footprints of a rover or lander, with individual samples on the mm to cm scale. It is currently not well-constrained how habitability varies over these spatial scales. FELDSPAR seeks to conduct field studies analogous to Mars sample return from landing site selection, in-field sample selection, remote or stand-off analysis, in situ analysis, and home laboratory (sample return) analysis [1]. This abstract represents an overview of the data collected during the 2017 field season and a comparison to data from prior field seasons in 2013 [1, 2], 2015, and 2016. Volcanic regions, particularly in Iceland, are relevant Martian analogues [1-2]. The four field sites include two recent lava fields at Fimmvörðuháls and Holuhraun, a recently deglaciated plain (Mælifellssandur), and an alluvial plain (Dyngjusandur). Samples in nested triangular grids every order of magnitude from the 10 cm scale to the 1 km scale were collected at each site. In-field analyses included overhead imagery at 1 m to 200 m elevation, in-field reflectance spectroscopy and X-ray fluorescence. ATP content was analyzed in a field lab, and Raman spectroscopy and qPCR for fungal, bacterial, and archaeal DNA are ongoing in the home lab(s). Spatial variation in ATP content at the 10 cm scale averaged out at larger scales, while the other analyses revealed limited variability. A follow-on expedition in summer 2018 searched to elucidate which geochemical and geochemical parameters dictate habitability. For more information, follow us on Facebook @FELDSPAResearch

The lecture will be streamed at: - European Astrobiology Institute

The European Astrobiology Institute presents "LIfe Beyond Us"

"Life Beyond Us", a new anthology by the European Astrobiology Institute and Laksa Media, depicts the timeless quest for finding alien life in 22 science fiction stories and 22 short science essays. The Kickstarter campaign has just started with the goal to publish brilliant science fiction by authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal or Peter Watts and support science understanding and critical thinking.

Please suppopret the project generously here.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the BEACON conference has been adjourned. Most likely dates are now 25-29 April 2022. We apologise for the inconvenience and hope to welcome you in La Palma in 2022 ! See the cancellation procedures at the BEACON website


The summer school on "Formation and evolution of planetary systems and habitable planets" will be organised by the European Astrobiology Institute at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń has been adjourned. We hope to hold it in 2021.

For all information check the website:  

The European Astrobiology Institute (EAI) is a consortium of European research and higher education institutions and organisations as well as other stakeholders aiming to carry out research, training, outreach and dissemination activities in astrobiology in a comprehensive and coordinated manner and thereby securing a leading role for the European Research Area in the field.

On this website you will find information on the aimsstructure, forms of membership as well as the composition of the Management Committee. Documents available on this site include:

  • the Statutes of the EAI
  • an executive summary
  • a promotional folder
  • the communiques of the past meetings of the EAI Interim Board
  • the resolutions of the General Assembly in Liblice, CZ (30 May 2019)

We are looking forward to welcoming your institution as paricipant into the EAI. Meanwhile, we are interested in your views and hope that you find the information available on this site useful.

Please join us at the Biannual European Astrobiology Conference (BEACON) on La Palma Island, Canary Island, Spain (20-24 April 2020). Abstract submission deadline is closed but you can still register. Rooms at the venue are still available on a first come-first served basis.