Pinpointing the Search for Life in Ancient Martian Hot Springs


Tuesday, December 08 2015 - 12:00 pm, PST
J.R. Skok
SETI Institute

The recent explosion of Martian surface data is set to revolutionize the way we explore that planet. Until now, mission science has had to catch up with the imposed engineering constraints. With this data, we can plan exciting new missions to specific locations with enough precision to allow engineers to get us there safely. One of the most appealing uses of this methodology is the search for evidence that life once existed on Mars. Here we discuss the developing effort to send a mission to search for life in an ancient hot spring deposit. This type of site would have all of the known requirements and preferences for life; warm waters, thermal and chemical energy, access to the subsurface and a great medium of preservation. With the target in mind, we can develop the instrumentation package and mission architecture to optimize the science return and minimize the cost to begin a hopefully long line of targeted, focused missions to explore the nuances of our Solar System.


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