Mars Sample Return: Planning Considerations for Searching for Biosignatures in Samples from Mars

This seminar is part of the EAI on-line seminars

By Brandi Carrier, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, US

20 December 2022, 16:00 CET

The NASA & ESA Mars Sample Return (MSR) Campaign is intended to return scientifically selected samples that have been collected from the Jezero Crater region of Mars by NASA’s Mars 2020 (M2020) Perseverance Rover. One of the highest priority science objectives should be to examine these samples for signs of martian life. Although one of the primary goals of M2020 is to identify and collect samples that have the highest probability of containing evidence of past martian life, it would also be important to look for signs of extant life for both science and planetary protection reasons. There are many considerations that go into planning the strategy for looking for signs of martian life in the MSR Samples including; 1) strategies for limiting contamination of the samples that would interfere with astrobiological investigations; 2) how the samples can be protected from environmental extremes that could cause degradation or alteration of potential biosignatures; 3) planning for life detection and biosignature investigations; 4) determining which, if any, measurements of potential biosignatures could be done in laboratories outside of biocontainment; 5) planning for a sample investigation workflow that can accommodate measurements that are time-sensitive.

Join us at 16:00 CET on the 20th of December !