Petri dishes containing cultures of ancient DNA molecules are pictured in the research lab of Betül Kaçar, assistant professor of bacteriology, in the Microbial Sciences Building at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on Oct. 21, 2021.Marilyn Fogel working at a field site.John Baross with the deep-ocean research submersible dubbed Alvin, 1991.This artist's concept allows us to imagine what it might be like to stand on the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, located in the TRAPPIST-1 system in the constellation Aquarius.
NASA Astrobiology Unveils New Research Coordination Network (NASA)LIFE: Early Cells to Multicellularity brings together researchers to study the earliest biological processes and the evolution of life into more complex organisms.01/04
In Memoriam: Marilyn FogelMarilyn Fogel, pioneering astrobiologist, biogeochemist, and “isotope queen”, died on May 11, 202202/04
Astrobiologist John Baross Receives NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal03/04
Are We Alone in the Universe? NASA Calls for New Framework (NASA)A framework for scientific findings in the search for life04/04
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Illustration of the Perseverance rover arriving on Mars.

NASA's Mars 2020 mission is the next step in NASA's long-term robotic exploration of Mars. The rover Perseverance will provide important data relevant to astrobiology research, along with a vast amount of geological information about the landing site and the planet at large that will help put the astrobiological data into context.

Perseverance will not be looking for organisms living on Mars today. However, the rover will collect data that could be used to identify biosignatures of ancient microbial life.

What really sets this mission apart is that Perseverance will be collecting a suite of samples to be returned to Earth via a Mars Sample Return mission. The opportunity to bring back samples from another planet will allow our researchers to interrogate them with all of the sophistication and thoroughness that Earth-based instrumentation provides.

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