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Where Next in the Search for Life on Mars?

Presenter: Christopher McKay, NASA Ames Research Center
When: April 9, 2010 12PM PDT

For the past decade missions to Mars have “followed the water”. In this talk I will argue that future missions should begin directly searching for signs of life. The most important result from the recent Mars missions in this regard was the discovery of perchlorate by the Phoenix lander. Perchlorate could form the basis of a biological redox system on Mars. Furthermore, reanalysis of the Viking GCMS results suggests that perchlorate and organics may have been present at the Viking sites. Ice-cemented ground beneath dry permafrost in the high elevations of the Antarctic Dry Valleys provides a model for considering the search for signs of life at the Phoenix site.

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