The search for life on Mars is a priority for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, a pivotal question of the Astrobiology Program, and the ultimate goal of the Mars Exploration Program (MEPAG, 2008). Also, assessment of the presence or absence of life on Mars is a prerequisite for human exploration in that it will allow mitigation of potential threats to planetary protection. Nevertheless, the Viking missions remain the first, and only, attempt to search for life on the planet (or anywhere else beyond the confines of Earth). Robotic missions to Mars since Viking have focused on characterizing the physical, chemical, and geological environment, and future missions will attempt to search for evidence of past life,perhaps after samples have been returned to Earth.
In this talk Dr. Davila will propose an alternative strategy to how we search for life in the Solar System. This strategy is centered on the search for biochemistry, and stems from decades of research experience in Mars Analogue Environments, a deeper understanding of the environmental limits of life, and the drive to understand the fundamental principles and the origin of life.