Mars Extant Life:  What’s Next?

November 5–8, 2019

National Cave and Karst Research Institute

Carlsbad, New Mexico

 

Program and Abstracts

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

 

8:00 a.m.

NCKRI Exhibit Hall

Registration

8:30 a.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Conference Introduction

9:00 a.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Overview and General

11:05 a.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Lightning Talks for Poster Presentations and Introduction to Small Discussion Groups

1:30 p.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Potential Martian Extant Life Environments I:  Ice and Salt

2:55 p.m.

NCKRI Exhibit Hall

Poster Session and Onsite Exhibits I

4:00 p.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Potential Martian Extant Life Environments II:  Caves

 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

 

8:30 a.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Conference Field Trip

 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

 

8:30 a.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Potential Martian Extant Life Environments III:  Subsurface

10:50 a.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Possible Detection Methods for Extant Martian Life

1:30 p.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Possible Constraints on Martian Extant Life Derived from Laboratory Experiments

2:55 p.m.

NCKRI Exhibit Hall

Poster Session and Onsite Exhibits II

3:30 p.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Geological Search Strategies

 

Friday, November 8, 2019

 

8:30 a.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Possible Extant Life on Mars — Sample Return and Other Topics of Interest

10:00 a.m.

NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Discussion, Summary, Conclusions, and Next Steps

 

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Print Only

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

CONFERENCE INTRODUCTION

8:30 a.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

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Times

Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

8:30 a.m.

Beaty D. W.   Carrier B. C. *

Introduction to Conference Logistics

8:40 a.m.

Meyer M. *

The Search for Life and the Mars Exploration Program:  The Rationale and the Wherewithal

8:50 a.m.

Hays L. *

The Importance of Mars to Astrobiology

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

OVERVIEW AND GENERAL

9:00 a.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Chairs:  Tullis Onstott and Mary Sue Bell

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Times

Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

9:00 a.m.

Clark B. C. *   Kolb V. M.

Why Life Should Have Started on Mars, and Searching for Survivors in Salts [#5008]
Now that we know sulfate is everywhere on Mars, the presence of S-reducing chemoautotrophs using H2 should be tested. Obliquity cycling provides higher H2, warmer temps, and liquid H2O. Simulating this more clement climate can test for extant life.

9:15 a.m.

Schulze-Makuch D. *

The Case for a Robotic In-Situ Life Detection Mission to Explore Potential Habitats on Mars [#5009]
The time is now to explore with an in-situ robotic mission potential habitats on Mars. These habitats (e.g. caves, salt rocks, RSL) may contain life that might have evolved novel adaptations to extreme environmental stresses not existing on Earth.

9:30 a.m.

Paige D. A. *

Seeking Out Life on Mars:  Physics and Chemistry vs. Paleontology [#5106]
We should be seeking out life on Mars using physics and chemistry, rather than paleontology.

9:45 a.m.

Wiens R. C. *   Clark B. C.   Ehlmann B. L.   Eigenbrode J. L.   Gasda P. J.   Lanza N. L.   Schwenzer S. P.   Vasavada A. R.

Progress in Understanding Mars as a Habitable Planet [#5038]
We survey recent advances in understanding Mars as a habitable planet, including redox potential, Mn deposits, silica-rich sediments, groundwater niches, and organic detection. We also look ahead to the three rover missions in 2020, and the future.

10:00 a.m.

Stamenkovic V. *   Plesa A. C.   Breuer D.   Burgin M.   Grimm R.   Arumugam D.   Beauchamp R.   Barba N.   Manthena R.   Wright D.   Wilcox B.   Carpenter K.   Edwards C.

Mars Subsurface Hydrology in 4D and Implications for Extant Life [#5052]
In this study, we show how ground-water levels might have evolved over the last 4.5 Ga inside the martian subsurface as a function of location, depth, and time using numerical geodynamical evolution models. We also show how to search for them.

10:15 a.m.

 

Session-Level Discussion

10:50 a.m.

 

BREAK

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

LIGHTNING TALKS FOR POSTER PRESENTATIONS AND INTRODUCTION TO SMALL DISCUSSION GROUPS

11:05 a.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Chairs:  Horton Newsom and Kennda Lynch

 

Brief 1.5-minute overviews of each poster presentation. Presenters, note that you have the opportunity to show one PowerPoint slide.

 

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Times

Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

11:05 a.m.

 

Lightning Talks for Poster Presenters.

11:45 a.m.

Beaty D. W. *   Carrier B. C. *

Introduction to Small Group Activity and Formation of Groups

12:05 p.m.

 

LUNCH

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

POTENTIAL MARTIAN EXTANT LIFE ENVIRONMENTS I:  ICE AND SALT

1:30 p.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Chairs:  Heather Graham and Rachel Harris

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Times

Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

1:30 p.m.

Eigenbrode J. L. *   Glass B.   McKay C. P.   Niles P.   Spry J. A.

Martian Subsurface Ice Science Investigation [#5020]
We propose an astrobiology mission concept that aims for due diligence in the search for extant life on Mars and the context for which it might exist in subsurface ice.

1:45 p.m.

Bakermans C. *   Whyte L. G.

Terrestrial Permafrost as a Model for  Microbial Growth at Low Temperatures: Implications for Mars Extant Life [#5040]
Many microorganisms have been isolated from organic-rich Arctic permafrost that has remained frozen for up to ~3 million years, demonstrating that survival of these long-term low-temperature low-diffusion conditions is frequently realized.

2:00 p.m.

Stoker C. R. *

Search for Life in High Latitude Ground Ice on Mars [#5107]
A hypothesis for extant life in martian ground ice is presented along with the outline of a mission to search for it.

2:15 p.m.

O’Connor B. R. W. *   Léveillé R. J.   Whyte L. G.

Microbial Community Characterization of Lava Tube Ice on Earth to Determine its Habitability on Mars [#5105]
Lava tubes on Mars provide access to the subsurface environment where evidence of martian life is most likely to be found. We’ve investigated Earth lava tubes and found the microbial community within ice to be cold adapted, and metabolically active.

2:30 p.m.

Lynch K. L. *   Rey K. A.   Bond R. J.   Jackson W. A.   Rosenzweig R. F.   Biddle J. F.   Christman G. D.

The Pilot Valley Basin, Utah:  A Model System for Extant Life in the Martian Subsurface [#5056]
The Pilot Valley Basin in Utah as an excellent model system to study subsurface extant life.

2:45 p.m.

Perl S. M. *   Baxter B. K.   Celestian A. J.

Hypersaline and Sedimentological Advantages on the Preservation of Extant Biological Activity in Modern Martian Analogue Settings [#5031]
The purpose of this work is twofold. First, evaporite minerals found in martian analogue environments can sustain ongoing metabolic processes. Second, we will show our developed investigation strategies for martian subsurface sample analysis and return.

3:00 p.m.

 

Session-Level Discussion

3:15 p.m.

 

Break and Poster Session

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

POSTER SESSION I AND ONSITE EXHIBIT

2:55 p.m.   NCKRI Exhibit Hall

All posters will be on display throughout the conference.

 

EXHIBIT:

Meteorites and Minerals Associated with the Origin of Life

Understanding the Origin of Life

Percival Lowell Life on Mars Advocate Over 100 Years Ago

Exhibits Provided by Bob Bruner, Denver Museum of Nature and Science Volunteer

 

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Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

Benner S. A.

The Chemical Details of How Life Could Have, Would Have, and Should Have Started on Mars [#5110]
Recent advances in our understanding of the prebiotic chemistry of RNA have come by a focus on paradoxes that make RNA a "prebiotic chemists nightmare."

Benner S. A.

Detecting Life Universally in Water:  Martian Lagoons, Jupiter's Moons, and Enceladus' Plumes [#5111]
Our understanding of what kinds of biopolymers might support Darwinism is assisted by synthetic biologists who generate alternative genetic molecules that store and transmit information, and evolve like DNA and RNA, but on different molecular platforms.

Benner S. A.

Detecting Extant Life on Mars. An Instrument Design that Avoids Guesswork [#5112]
Darwinian evolution is believed to be the only way matter can self-organize to give properties valued in life. Synthetic biology has taught us to support Darwinism in water, informational biopolymer must have two structural features to be discussed here.

Clark B. C.

Viking Life Detection Revisited:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly [#5007]
The Viking missions were the only attempts to robotically detect extant life. Results were disappointing. Why? Based on better knowledge, in addition to biosignatures, future investigations, inducing activation of metabolism, should also be explored.

Elaksher A. F.

Reliable Mars Topographic Surfaces for Future Landing Sites [#5094]
This poster outlines the photogrammetric processing of HiRISE and MOLA data to generate reliable 3D surface information.

Gallegos Z. E.   Newsom H. E.   Scuderi L. A.

The Search for Extant Life at the Candidate Human Exploration Zone:  Protonilus Mensae [#5059]
The candidate human exploration zone Protonilus Mensae represents a valuable target for investigation of recent or extant life. Multiple environmental niches like groundwater outflow channels and glacial deposits offer potentially habitable refugia.

Gasda P. J.   Parsons B.   Nellessen M. A.   Crossey L.   Peterson E.   Lanza N.   Yeager C.   Labouriau A.   Wiens R. C.   Clegg S.

Prebiotic Chemistry of Borate-Bearing Clays:  A Potential Mars Biosignature [#5034]
Borate-organic complexes, if found by current or future missions, are potential biosignatures because borates adsorbed to martian clays may stabilize organic molecules that would otherwise breakdown by aqueous alteration.

Glamoclija M.   Murphy A.   Taj-Eddine K.   Ori G. G.

Biosignatures in Precambrian and Cambrian Carbonate Rich Sedimentary Sequences of Anti-Atlas, Morocco [#5041]
Preservation of biosignatures in precambrian and cambrian carbonate rich sedimentary sequences of anti-atlas, Morocco are an excellent sample analogs to martian carbonate sequences identified at two M2020 landing site candidates.

Graham H. V.   Sherwood Lollar B.   Mustard J. F.   Rogers K. L.   Stamenković V.

Planetary Subsurface Science and Exploration:  An Integrated Consortium to Understand Subsurface Sources of Energy and the Unique Energetics of Subsurface Life [#5047]
Our current understanding of habitability has been unnecessarily biased by our position on the thin surface of the Earth. A new research consortium seeks to challenge this bias through studies of subsurface architecture, life, and energy sources.

Havlena Z.   Kieft T.   Veni G.   Horrocks R.   Jones D. S.

Photosynthetic Biofilms in Carlsbad Cavern:  Use of In Situ Spectrophotometry and DNA Analysis to Explore Influence of Lighting and Substrate Conditions on Growth [#5039]
Photosynthetic communities of microorganisms (“lampenflora”) proliferate in caves with artificial lighting. This investigation using spectrophotometry and DNA analysis focused on the response of these organisms to different environmental conditions.

Hoffman M. E.   Newsom H. E.   Adair B. M.   Williams J. M.   Williams J. P.   Comellas J. M.   Calef F. J.   Grant J. A.   Wiens R. C.   Le Mouélic S.   Escarcega K.

Atmospheric Implications from the Crater Record Along Curiosity’s Traverse, Gale Crater, Mars [#5044]
The size and frequency of small craters along Curiosity’s traverse indicates that the martian atmosphere may have been up to 20 times more dense as recently as 5 million years ago. Liquid water could deposit at the surface leaving evidence of life.

Holt R. M.   Powers D. W.

Halite, Extant Life, Permian Salado Formation, and Mars [#5046]
Viable bacteria were extracted from 250 Ma halite of the Permian Salado Formation. The core workshop will be used to illustrate the geological features sampled and the factors establishing isolation.

Jones D. S.   Havlena Z. E.   Macalady J. L.

Microbial Ecology, Evolution, and Biosignature Potential in Isolated Chemosynthetic Cave Ecosystems [#5030]
Sulfidic caves are hotspots for life in Earth’s subsurface. We will present research on microbial ecology, biogeochemical sulfur cycling, and potential biosignature preservation in the sulfidic Frasassi cave system.

Koeppel A. H.D.   Trilling D. E.   Koch G. W.   Schwartz E.   Edwards C. S.

Testing Methods for Detection of Unfamiliar Life in Martian Regolith [#5100]
In this exploratory work, we investigate two methods for detecting biotic activity in martian soils which do not rely on C-O-H chemistries, namely the redox tracer dye Alamar Blue (resazurin) and infrared thermography.

Kring D. A.

Cyanobacteria Soil Crust and Endoliths at Barringer Meteorite Crater (aka Meteor Crater), Arizona [#5081]
Microorganisms at Meteor Crater utilize different strategies in two ecological niches, one on the crater floor and the other on the crater rim.

LaJoie B.   Alarcon H.   Mansor M.   Xu J.

Interaction of Sulfate-Reducers with Hydrous Sulfate Minerals in Water-Restricted Terrestrial Gypsic Settings:  Implication for the Habitability of Martian Gypsic Environments [#5051]
Sulfate reducing bacteria have been identified inhabiting gypsic environments and may effect the habitability of such zones by freeing water by transforming the gypsum. This study is an attempt to relate transformed gypsum to biologic signatures.

Lee P. A.   Dyar M. D.   Sklute E. C.   Jarratt A.   Mikucki J. A.

Got Gas? Assessing Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compounds as a Biosignature for Extant Life [#5095]
Microbes generate numerous non-methane volatile organic compounds variously as by-products of respiration, or intracellular processes, or syntrophic interactions. These metabolites represent a potential biosignature for detecting extant life on Mars.

Nellessen M. A.   Crossey L.   Gasda P. J.   Peterson E.   Lanza N.   Yeager C.   Labouriau A.   Wiens R. C.   Clegg S.   Reyes-Newell A.   Delapp D.   Das D.

Boron Adsorption in Martian Clay Analogs:  Significance for Martian Prebiotic Processes and Groundwater Geochemistry [#5102]
Analysis of boron adsorption to martian clay mineral analogs to determine conditions for boron sorption in Gale Crater, which can aide in improving boron detection on Mars as well as have implications for stabilizing organic molecules needed for life.

Novak C. M.   Stockton A. M.   Sutton S. M.   Cable M. L.   Duca Z. A.   Tan G. K.   Cullen D.   Balayan V.   Geppert W.

Suite of Geochemical and Spatial Analogues for Planetary Life Detection [#5005]
This research provides terrestrial geochemical and spatial analogues that can be applied to the Mars 2020 mission in which we attempt to correlate a series of parameters to build a model that predicts habitability.

Powers D. W.   Holt R. M.

Sulfate-Filled Separations in Redbeds Can Be Syndepositional [#5055]
The Dewey Lake Formation redbeds include sulfate-filled separations. Intraclasts of the sulfate preserved within the formation are evidence of early (near-surface) formation of the separations and fill.

Sandjaja I. N.   Schubert K. E.   Marks R. J.

Highlight Removal from Extremophile Images [#5054]
Comparing and developing highlight removal algorithm from extremophile images that are taken in caves would increase the accuracy of discerning the rule of extremophile in answering the challenges of exploring extant life.

Tarasashvili M. V.   Aleksidze N. D.

Possible Biological Origin of the Carbonates in the Martian Regolith [#5014]
The abstract describes the results of empirical experiments, which demonstrate that specific biochemical adaptations allow different autotrophs to metabolize within Artificial Martian Ground (AMG), accumulating biogenic carbon and other substances.

Torres J. A.   Bolivar H.   Durand H. J.   Servin-Garcidueñas L. E.

Considerations for the Study of Deep Biosphere on Mars Taking as Reference Terrestrial Analogs [#5109]
According to recent studies, the surface of Mars is hostile for the life. However,, the subsurface of the red planet could be a more comfortable place for the existence of live beings.

Viola D.   McKay C. P.

Equatorial Alpine Regions as a Scientific Analog for Past/Present Life on Mars [#5099]
Equatorial alpine regions may represent a Mars analog where temperatures are perpetually below the freezing point of water. We use orbital Landsat observations to identify candidate analog sites at Pico de Orizaba, Mexico and Illimani, Bolivia.

Wade B. D.   Lenski R. E.

Experimentally Evolved Tolerance to Desiccation and UV-C Radiation in E. coli and Its Implications for Extant Life in Martian Near-Surface Environments [#5053]
Experimental evolution under stress from desiccation and UV-C radiation was carried out to explore the potential of a non-extremophile to adapt to Mars-relevant stressors.

Walker C. J.   Weatherspoon C. I.   Markushin Y.

Efficacy of Machine Learning Techniques in Analyzing Amino Acids and Minerals Using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy [#5103]
Life as we know it is composed of carbon-containing building blocks, organic molecules. This study was conducted to classify and predict varying concentrations of amino acids and rock using machine learning techniques.

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

POTENTIAL MARTIAN EXTANT LIFE ENVIRONMENTS II:  CAVES

4:00 p.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Chairs:  Corien Bakermans and Jennifer Eigenbrode

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Times

Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

4:00 p.m.

Spilde M. N. *   Medley J. J.   Northup D. E.   Boston P. J.

Biomarkers in Lava Caves:  An Analog for the Search for Life on Mars [#5036]
Lava caves are present on Mars and could prove suitable habitat for extant live. We have examined numerous lava caves on Earth and discovered evidence of abundant microbial activity in these caves.

4:15 p.m.

Northup D. E. *   Hathaway J. J. M.   Spilde M. N.   Moser D. P.   Blank J. G.

Investigating the Mineral:  Microbe Continuum in Lava Caves to Enhance Selection of Life Detection Targets [#5037]
We investigated a continuum of lava cave secondary mineral deposits:  microbial mats with the goal of enhancing remote capabilities for detection of life (past or present) on extraterrestrial bodies, such as Mars, where lava caves have been detected.

4:30 p.m.

Léveillé R. L. *   Ni J.   O’Connor B.   Whyte L. G.   Patterson C.

Lava Tube Caves on Mars as Refugia for Microbial Life [#5042]
Lava tube caves may act as subsurface refugia that could enable life to survive through less habitable conditions, including possibly in modern times. We are investigating lava tubes caves at Lava Beds National Monument, California.

4:45 p.m.

Webster K. D. *

Developing Cave Air as a Biosignature [#5048]
Caves are high priority targets in the search for life on Mars. Despite this, cave air itself is rarely thought of as a diagnostic for the presence of life. This research shows that cave air on Earth appears to be behaving as a biosignature.

5:00 p.m.

Blank J. G. *

Remote and In-Situ Characterization of Microbial Life and the Geochemical Record of Life in Terrestrial Lava Tubes, Analogs for Martian Volcanic Caves [#5108]
This presentation focuses on biosignatures of life in volcanic caves on Earth and how we can use these analog environments to prepare for the search for life, extant or extinct, in martian caves.

5:15 p.m.

 

Session-Level Discussion

5:30 p.m.

 

Discussion of Field Trip Logistics

5:50 p.m.

 

Small Group Discussions

6:15 p.m.

 

Adjourn Day 1

 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

CONFERENCE FIELD TRIP

8:30 a.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

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Day two of the conference is dedicated to a field trip to Carlsbad Caverns in the morning and to other astrobiologically interesting local attractions later in the afternoon. Click here for details.

 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

POTENTIAL MARTIAN EXTANT LIFE ENVIRONMENTS III:  SUBSURFACE

8:30 a.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Chairs:  Richard Léveillé and Diana Northup

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Times

Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

8:30 a.m.

 

Coffee and Small Group work (optional)

9:00 a.m.

King G. M. *   DePoy A.   Myers M. R.

Anaerobic Carbon Monoxide Oxidation Under Very Diverse Conditions as a Model for Sub-Surface Mars [#5029]
Anaerobic carbon monoxide oxidation by nickel-dependent systems in diverse terrestrial and aquatic systems provide models for understanding possible niches for microbial communities in near-surface or sub-surface Mars.

9:15 a.m.

Stamenkovic V. *   Ward L. M.   Mischna M.   Fischer W. W.

O2 Solubility in Martian Subsurface Environments and Implications for Extant Aerobic Life on Mars [#5045]
We find that brines buried beneath the martian surface, shallow and deep, could have enough dissolved oxygen to support microbes, and perhaps even simple sponges in some places. We show where on Mars such regions could be today and in the last 20 Ma.

9:30 a.m.

Harris R. L. *   Ehlmann B. L.   Bhartia R.   Onstott T. C.

Biologically Mediated Anaerobic Methane Oxidation — The Missing Sink in an Active Martian Methane Cycle? [#5050]
We explore previously identified CH4 seepage sites for features indicative of redox gradients. We describe the potential bioenergetics of biological anaerobic methane oxidation (AOM) coupled to the reduction of available martian oxidants.

9:45 a.m.

Tarnas J. D. *   Mustard J. F.   Sherwood Lollar B.   Warr O.   Palumbo A. M.   Plesa A.-C.

Deep Groundwaters on Earth as Analogs for Modern Martian Habitats [#5104]
We hypothesize the characteristics of a modern subsurface martian habitat based on Earth analog environments accessed in deep mines within Precambrian rocks.

10:00 a.m.

Onstott T. C. *   Rusley C.   Liang R.   Garvin Z.   Nissin D.   Harris R.   Higgins J.   Slater N.   Van Heerden E.   Freese B.   Leibenberg B.   Ogasawara H.   van Heerden E.   Cason E.   Vermeulen J.   Sherwood Lollar B.   Kieft T.   Wiersberg T.   Zimmer M.   Walters C.   Freifeld B.   Michalski J. R.

Briny SLiMEs in the Subsurface of Earth and Mars [#5025]
Earth’s deep subsurface is perhaps the closest analogue available for the study of martian habitability, owing to the hypothesized similarity of each planet’s subsurface geology and the relative irrelevance of atmospheric or radiative factors.

10:15 a.m.

 

Session-Level Discussion

10:30 a.m.

 

BREAK

 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

POSSIBLE DETECTION METHODS FOR EXTANT MARTIAN LIFE

10:50 a.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Chairs:  Nina Lanza and Roger Wiens

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Times

Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

10:50 a.m.

Mahaffy P. R. *   Arevalo R. D.   Brinckerhoff W. B.   Cook J. E.   Danell R. M.   Getty S. A.   Graham H. V.   Johnson S. S.   Trainer M. G.   Li X.

Advanced Mass Spectrometer Techniques for Agnostic Surveys for Martian Biosignatures [#5022]
Ultra-high resolution and tandem mass spectrometer techniques respectively provide unambiguous determination of molecular stoichiometry and are diagnostic of molecular structure lending themselves to an agnostic survey for martian biosignatures.

11:05 a.m.

Williams A. J. *   Muñoz C.   Craft K.   Millan M.   Johnson S. S.

Martian Hot Spring Deposits as a Depot for Biosignatures (and Extant Life?) [#5016]
Hydrothermal spring deposits on Mars present a depot for organics preservation and a habitable environment for putative life.

11:20 a.m.

Li X. *   van Amerom F.   Kaplan D.   Grubisic A.   Danell R.   Getty S.   Castillo M.   Arevalo R.   Siljeström S.   Goetz W.   Brinckerhoff W.

Mars Analog Sample Study for ExoMars 2020 Rover Mission [#5027]
The Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA) is the core analytical instrument onboard 2020 ExoMars rover. We report the Mars analog samples testing on MOMA instrument to guide in situ surface operations and mass spectral data interpretation on ExoMars.

11:35 a.m.

Garvin Z. K. *   Abades S. R.   Trefault N.   Alfaro F. D.   Onstott T. C.

High-Affinity Trace Gas Consumption by Soil Microbial Communities Around Hot Springs in the Andean Altiplano:  Implications for the Evolution of Martian Metabolisms [#5097]
Soil samples surrounding the Polloquere Hot Springs in Chile were found to uptake CO and H2 rapidly at atmospheric concentrations, demonstrating the possibility for trace gas metabolisms to have evolved and supported martian microbial life.

11:50 a.m.

Quinn R. C. *   Ricco A. J.   Boone T. D.   Bramall N.   Bywaters K.   Chin M. M.   Chinn T. N.   Forgione J. B.   Harrison D. J.   Hoac T.   Kelly E. T.   Koehne J.   Kintz G.   Lee A. K. -S.   McCutcheon G. C.   Parenteau M. N.   Radosevich L. A.   Shimada J. A.   Tan M. X.   Timucin L. R.   Wang J. L.

Microfluidic Approaches to Searching for Extant Life on Mars [#5032]
Using lessons learned from prior missions, we are developing a multi-dimensional science and technology approach to the search for extant life that focuses on aspects of life that are likely to be universal.

12:05 p.m.

 

Session-Level Discussion

12:20 p.m.

 

LUNCH

 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

POSSIBLE CONSTRAINTS ON MARTIAN EXTANT LIFE DERIVED FROM LABORATORY EXPERIMENTS

1:30 p.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Chairs:  Xiang Li and Richard Quinn

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Times

Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

1:30 p.m.

Schwendner P. *   Schuerger A. C.

Spacecraft Microorganisms and Their Impact on Planetary Protection — Can they Grow at Simulated Martian Atmospheric Pressure? [#5006]
Microbial growth of isolates from actual Mars rovers and landers was tested under simulated martian conditions. This information is essential for planetary protection with regard to forward contamination.

1:45 p.m.

Hoog T.   Gaut N.   Pawlak M. R.   Bachan B. F.   Engelhart A. E. *

Mars as a Prebiotic Chemistry Laboratory:  A Martian RNA World? [#5098]
Here we report our investigations of the behavior of nucleic acids in the presence of high concentrations of perchlorate. We further examine the consequences of such environments for the possibility of an RNA world — past or present — on Mars.

2:00 p.m.

Schuerger A. C. *   Britt D.

Fast Degassing Rates Under Simulated Martian Conditions Indicate that Rock Void Spaces are Unlikely to Maintain Habitable Conditions on Mars [#5004]
Rock void spaces are in equilibrium with the bulk Mars atmosphere in which extremely low a(w) persist. Mars simulations with rocks instrumented with temp, RH, and press sensors confirmed diel cycles of temp would fail to raise internal a(w) in rocks.

2:15 p.m.

Rowe L. A. *   Davidson K.   Smith C.   Kovarik C.   Peller J.

Comparing the Stability of Non-Proteinogenic Amino Acids to Proteinogenic Amino Acids when Irradiated and in Perchlorate Spiked Mars Regolith [#5010]
In this work, the stability of non-proteinogenic amino acids was compared to the stability of proteinogenic amino acids following exposure to gamma and UV radiation and perchlorate-spiked Mars regolith simulant.

2:30 p.m.

 

Session-Level Discussion

2:45 p.m.

 

Break and Poster Session

 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

POSTER SESSION II AND ONSITE EXHIBIT

2:55 p.m.   NCKRI Exhibit Hall

 

EXHIBIT:

Meteorites and Minerals Associated with the Origin of Life

Understanding the Origin of Life

Percival Lowell Life on Mars Advocate Over 100 Years Ago

Exhibits Provided by Bob Bruner, Denver Museum of Nature and Science Volunteer

 

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Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

Benner S. A.

The Chemical Details of How Life Could Have, Would Have, and Should Have Started on Mars [#5110]
Recent advances in our understanding of the prebiotic chemistry of RNA have come by a focus on paradoxes that make RNA a "prebiotic chemists nightmare."

Benner S. A.

Detecting Life Universally in Water:  Martian Lagoons, Jupiter's Moons, and Enceladus' Plumes [#5111]
Our understanding of what kinds of biopolymers might support Darwinism is assisted by synthetic biologists who generate alternative genetic molecules that store and transmit information, and evolve like DNA and RNA, but on different molecular platforms.

Benner S. A.

Detecting Extant Life on Mars. An Instrument Design that Avoids Guesswork [#5112]
Darwinian evolution is believed to be the only way matter can self-organize to give properties valued in life. Synthetic biology has taught us to support Darwinism in water, informational biopolymer must have two structural features to be discussed here.

Clark B. C.

Viking Life Detection Revisited:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly [#5007]
The Viking missions were the only attempts to robotically detect extant life. Results were disappointing. Why? Based on better knowledge, in addition to biosignatures, future investigations, inducing activation of metabolism, should also be explored.

Elaksher A. F.

Reliable Mars Topographic Surfaces for Future Landing Sites [#5094]
This poster outlines the photogrammetric processing of HiRISE and MOLA data to generate reliable 3D surface information.

Gallegos Z. E.   Newsom H. E.   Scuderi L. A.

The Search for Extant Life at the Candidate Human Exploration Zone:  Protonilus Mensae [#5059]
The candidate human exploration zone Protonilus Mensae represents a valuable target for investigation of recent or extant life. Multiple environmental niches like groundwater outflow channels and glacial deposits offer potentially habitable refugia.

Gasda P. J.   Parsons B.   Nellessen M. A.   Crossey L.   Peterson E.   Lanza N.   Yeager C.   Labouriau A.   Wiens R. C.   Clegg S.

Prebiotic Chemistry of Borate-Bearing Clays:  A Potential Mars Biosignature [#5034]
Borate-organic complexes, if found by current or future missions, are potential biosignatures because borates adsorbed to martian clays may stabilize organic molecules that would otherwise breakdown by aqueous alteration.

Glamoclija M.   Murphy A.   Taj-Eddine K.   Ori G. G.

Biosignatures in Precambrian and Cambrian Carbonate Rich Sedimentary Sequences of Anti-Atlas, Morocco [#5041]
Preservation of biosignatures in precambrian and cambrian carbonate rich sedimentary sequences of anti-atlas, Morocco are an excellent sample analogs to martian carbonate sequences identified at two M2020 landing site candidates.

Graham H. V.   Sherwood Lollar B.   Mustard J. F.   Rogers K. L.   Stamenkovi? V.

Planetary Subsurface Science and Exploration:  An Integrated Consortium to Understand Subsurface Sources of Energy and the Unique Energetics of Subsurface Life [#5047]
Our current understanding of habitability has been unnecessarily biased by our position on the thin surface of the Earth. A new research consortium seeks to challenge this bias through studies of subsurface architecture, life, and energy sources.

Havlena Z.   Kieft T.   Veni G.   Horrocks R.   Jones D. S.

Photosynthetic Biofilms in Carlsbad Cavern:  Use of In Situ Spectrophotometry and DNA Analysis to Explore Influence of Lighting and Substrate Conditions on Growth [#5039]
Photosynthetic communities of microorganisms (“lampenflora”) proliferate in caves with artificial lighting. This investigation using spectrophotometry and DNA analysis focused on the response of these organisms to different environmental conditions.

Hoffman M. E.   Newsom H. E.   Adair B. M.   Williams J. M.   Williams J. P.   Comellas J. M.   Calef F. J.   Grant J. A.   Wiens R. C.   Le Mouélic S.   Escarcega K.

Atmospheric Implications from the Crater Record Along Curiosity’s Traverse, Gale Crater, Mars [#5044]
The size and frequency of small craters along Curiosity’s traverse indicates that the martian atmosphere may have been up to 20 times more dense as recently as 5 million years ago. Liquid water could deposit at the surface leaving evidence of life.

Holt R. M.   Powers D. W.

Halite, Extant Life, Permian Salado Formation, and Mars [#5046]
Viable bacteria were extracted from 250 Ma halite of the Permian Salado Formation. The core workshop will be used to illustrate the geological features sampled and the factors establishing isolation.

Johnson S. S.   Graham H.   Anslyn E.   Conrad P.   Cronin L.   Ellington A.   Elsila J.   Girguis P.   House C.   Kempes C.   Libby E.   Mahaffy P.   Nadeau J.   Sherwood Lollar B.   Steele A.

Agnostic Approaches to Extant Life Detection [#5026]
Life detection approaches that don’t presuppose a particular biochemistry are critical for astrobiology. The Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures (LAB) team is helping to develop methods for identifying unfamiliar features and chemistries.

Jones D. S.   Havlena Z. E.   Macalady J. L.

Microbial Ecology, Evolution, and Biosignature Potential in Isolated Chemosynthetic Cave Ecosystems [#5030]
Sulfidic caves are hotspots for life in Earth’s subsurface. We will present research on microbial ecology, biogeochemical sulfur cycling, and potential biosignature preservation in the sulfidic Frasassi cave system.

Koeppel A. H.D.   Trilling D. E.   Koch G. W.   Schwartz E.   Edwards C. S.

Testing Methods for Detection of Unfamiliar Life in Martian Regolith [#5100]
In this exploratory work, we investigate two methods for detecting biotic activity in martian soils which do not rely on C-O-H chemistries, namely the redox tracer dye Alamar Blue (resazurin) and infrared thermography.

Kring D. A.

Cyanobacteria Soil Crust and Endoliths at Barringer Meteorite Crater (aka Meteor Crater), Arizona [#5081]
Microorganisms at Meteor Crater utilize different strategies in two ecological niches, one on the crater floor and the other on the crater rim.

LaJoie B.   Alarcon H.   Mansor M.   Xu J.

Interaction of Sulfate-Reducers with Hydrous Sulfate Minerals in Water-Restricted Terrestrial Gypsic Settings:  Implication for the Habitability of Martian Gypsic Environments [#5051]
Sulfate reducing bacteria have been identified inhabiting gypsic environments and may effect the habitability of such zones by freeing water by transforming the gypsum. This study is an attempt to relate transformed gypsum to biologic signatures.

Lee P. A.   Dyar M. D.   Sklute E. C.   Jarratt A.   Mikucki J. A.

Got Gas? Assessing Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compounds as a Biosignature for Extant Life [#5095]
Microbes generate numerous non-methane volatile organic compounds variously as by-products of respiration, or intracellular processes, or syntrophic interactions. These metabolites represent a potential biosignature for detecting extant life on Mars.

Nellessen M. A.   Crossey L.   Gasda P. J.   Peterson E.   Lanza N.   Yeager C.   Labouriau A.   Wiens R. C.   Clegg S.   Reyes-Newell A.   Delapp D.   Das D.

Boron Adsorption in Martian Clay Analogs:  Significance for Martian Prebiotic Processes and Groundwater Geochemistry [#5102]
Analysis of boron adsorption to martian clay mineral analogs to determine conditions for boron sorption in Gale Crater, which can aide in improving boron detection on Mars as well as have implications for stabilizing organic molecules needed for life.

Novak C. M.   Stockton A. M.   Sutton S. M.   Cable M. L.   Duca Z. A.   Tan G. K.   Cullen D.   Balayan V.   Geppert W.

Suite of Geochemical and Spatial Analogues for Planetary Life Detection [#5005]
This research provides terrestrial geochemical and spatial analogues that can be applied to the Mars 2020 mission in which we attempt to correlate a series of parameters to build a model that predicts habitability.

Powers D. W.   Holt R. M.

Sulfate-Filled Separations in Redbeds Can Be Syndepositional [#5055]
The Dewey Lake Formation redbeds include sulfate-filled separations. Intraclasts of the sulfate preserved within the formation are evidence of early (near-surface) formation of the separations and fill.

Sandjaja I. N.   Schubert K. E.   Marks R. J.

Highlight Removal from Extremophile Images [#5054]
Comparing and developing highlight removal algorithm from extremophile images that are taken in caves would increase the accuracy of discerning the rule of extremophile in answering the challenges of exploring extant life.

Tarasashvili M. V.   Aleksidze N. D.

Possible Biological Origin of the Carbonates in the Martian Regolith [#5014]
The abstract describes the results of empirical experiments, which demonstrate that specific biochemical adaptations allow different autotrophs to metabolize within Artificial Martian Ground (AMG), accumulating biogenic carbon and other substances.

Torres J. A.   Bolivar H.   Durand H. J.   Servin-Garcidueñas L. E.

Considerations for the Study of Deep Biosphere on Mars Taking as Reference Terrestrial Analogs [#5109]
According to recent studies, the surface of Mars is hostile for the life. However,, the subsurface of the red planet could be a more comfortable place for the existence of live beings.

Viola D.   McKay C. P.

Equatorial Alpine Regions as a Scientific Analog for Past/Present Life on Mars [#5099]
Equatorial alpine regions may represent a Mars analog where temperatures are perpetually below the freezing point of water. We use orbital Landsat observations to identify candidate analog sites at Pico de Orizaba, Mexico and Illimani, Bolivia.

Wade B. D.   Lenski R. E.

Experimentally Evolved Tolerance to Desiccation and UV-C Radiation in E. coli and Its Implications for Extant Life in Martian Near-Surface Environments [#5053]
Experimental evolution under stress from desiccation and UV-C radiation was carried out to explore the potential of a non-extremophile to adapt to Mars-relevant stressors.

Walker C. J.   Weatherspoon C. I.   Markushin Y.

Efficacy of Machine Learning Techniques in Analyzing Amino Acids and Minerals Using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy [#5103]
Life as we know it is composed of carbon-containing building blocks, organic molecules. This study was conducted to classify and predict varying concentrations of amino acids and rock using machine learning techniques.

 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

GEOLOGICAL SEARCH STRATEGIES

3:30 p.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Chairs:  Lindsay Hays and Amy Williams

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Times

Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

3:30 p.m.

Boston P. J. *   Northup D. N.   Spilde M. N.

Long-Duration Natural Storage of Viable Organisms in Geological Materials and Structures as a Model for Obliquity Over-Wintering on Mars [#5058]
Live microbes have been recovered from geomaterials in many locations and genetic relationships between subsurface microorganisms at distant locations hint at Earth’s geogenetic latency that could be a model for survival through Mars’ obliquity cycles.

3:45 p.m.

Williams J. M. *   Nagle-McNaughton T. P.   Scuderi L. A.   Newsom H. E.   Gallegos Z. E.

Remote Sensing Techniques that Aid in the Identification of Locations with High Biosignature Preservation Potential [#5021]
Cosmogenic radiation destroy biosignatures on Mars to 2 m below the surface. This study defines methods used with orbital imagery to identify astrobiologically important bedrock targets that have been recently exposed due to active scarp retreat.

4:00 p.m.

DasSarma S. *   DasSarma P.

The Green Edge:  Haloarchaeal Photopigments as Biosignatures for Detection of Extant Life on Mars [#5092]
Pigments commonly found in Haloarchaea and many other microbes may hold considerable potential as remote biosignatures for detection of life on Mars.

4:15 p.m.

Scuderi L. A. *   Gallegos Z. E.   Newsom H. E.   Wiens R. C.

Amazonian Groundwater Springline at Peace Vallis Fan, Gale Crater; Implications for a Late Period of Surface Habitability [#5043]
Orbital HiRISE data and rover imagery from MSLs ChemCam RMI reveal a distinct groundwater springline on the Peace Vallis fan within Gale Crater. This site is a prime candidate in the search for recent habitability and possible subsurface extant life.

4:30 p.m.

Lanza N. L. *   Fischer W. W.   Yeager C.   Lingappa U.   Ollila A. M.   Gasda P. J.   Lamm S. N.   Salvatore M.   Clegg S. M.   Wiens R. C.

Targeting Manganese Minerals on Mars as Potential Biosignatures [#5035]
How can we find bugs / In manganese rocks on Mars / With the next rover?

4:45 p.m.

Newsom H. E. *   Crossey L. J.   Hoffman M. E.   Ganter G. E.   Baker A. M.

The role of large impact craters in the search for extant life on Mars. [#5049]
Large impact craters can provide conditions for access to material derived from deep life-containing groundwater reservoirs on Mars, providing evidence for extant life on Mars.

5:00 p.m.

Des Marais D. J. *

Biosignatures of Past Life are also Relevant to the Search for Extant Life [#5023]
Biosignatures that can indicate past life do not need extant life to be present at the time and place of sample acquisition. If a biosignature can be confirmed as geologically recent in origin, then it could indicate that life still exists somewhere.

5:15 p.m.

 

Session-Level Discussion

5:30 p.m.

 

Small Group Discussions

6:10 p.m.

 

Adjourn Day 3

 

Friday, November 8, 2019

POSSIBLE EXTANT LIFE ON MARS — SAMPLE RETURN AND OTHER TOPICS OF INTEREST

8:30 a.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Chair:  Penelope Boston

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Times

Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

8:30 a.m.

 

Coffee and Small Group work (optional)

9:00 a.m.

Mackelprang R. *   Beaty D. W.   Carrier B. C.   iMOST Team

Strategies and Recommendations for the Search for Extant Life [#5015]
In early 2018, the International Mars Sample Return Objectives and Samples Team (iMOST) outlined investigative strategies to assay for evidence of extant life. Here, we summarize the report’s strategies and recommendations.

9:15 a.m.

Bell M. S. *   Davis R. E.   Regberg A. B.   Rucker M. A.   Wallace S. L.

Human Forward Contamination Assesment:  Towards Protecting Potential Extant Life on Mars [#5096]
A team at NASA’s JSC has developed a prototype EVA swab tool designed to sample space suits and determine their current microbial loads. These data will inform exploration EVA suit design that will minimize contamination of the Moon and Mars.

9:30 a.m.

 

Session-Level Discussion

9:45 a.m.

Kramer W. R. *

Giving Voice to the Extraterrestrial — Providing Legal Standing to the Unknown [#5001]
Extraterrestrial life may require legal standing and representation. Accordingly, human interest needs to be demonstrated and documented prior to its discovery. Ad litem guardianship is proposed as one method for achieving this representation.

 

Friday, November 8, 2019

DISCUSSION, SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND NEXT STEPS

10:00 a.m.   NCKRI Classrooms A & B

Chairs:  David Beaty and Brandi Carrier

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Times

Presentation

10:00 a.m.

Reports from Small Groups 1

10:40 a.m.

BREAK

10:55 a.m.

Reports from Small Groups 2

11:35 a.m.

Large Group Discussion and Planning for Next Steps

12:20 p.m.

Adjourn Day 4

 

PRINT ONLY

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Authors (*Denotes Presenter)

Abstract Title and Summary

Allen C. C.   Oehler D. Z.

Searching for Martian Bio-Indicators and Extant Life Using Spacecraft [#5011]
This discussion focuses on methane — which can be produced either abiotically or by microbial life — and possible geological or biological sources for that methane in the subsurface.

Chen P.   Yung Y. L.

Possible Uptake of Mars Atmospheric Gases by an Extant Biosphere [#5061]
This talk discusses Mars’ atmospheric composition in the context of gas uptake by a possible biosphere and future measurement strategies.

DiGregorio B. E.

3D Photogrammetric Evidence for Trace Fossils at Vera Rubin Ridge, Gale Crater, Mars [#5003]
Did Curiosity find evidence for trace fossils and bioturbation at Vera Rubin Ridge?

Grady M. M.   COSPAR SSAP Working Group

Planetary Protection:  Updating the Draft Test Protocol in the Light of Almost Two Decades of Research [#5028]
With MSR almost a reality, it is essential to consider possible contamination of Earth by martian organisms. COSPAR has established a Sample Safety Assessment Protocol Working Group (SSAP WG) to provide a mechanism to update the Draft Test Protocol.

Johnson J. C.   Johnson P. A.   Mardon A. A.

Soil Sampling with Nanoscale Vibration Sensors for On-Site Detection of Microorganisms [#5079]
Nano-vibrations created by the metabolic activities of microorganisms can be used as a strategy for detection. Here, we suggest a formal application of this device in soil sampling for the search for microbial life on Mars.

Levin G. V.

Confirming Extant Life on Mars [#5002]
A follow-up on the Viking LR experiment includes chiral metabolism determination and protects against forward contamination of the experiment.

Mansor M.   Harouaka K.   Gonzales M. S.   Macalady J. L.   Fantle M. S.

Transport-Coupled Sulfur Isotopic Fractionation by Sulfur Oxidizing Microbes as Biosignatures on the Walls of Earth and Martian Caves [#5018]
Spatial isotopic biosignatures can be recognized in terrestrial caves due to the fast kinetics of microbial processes, which causes isotopic distillation over shorter distance compared to abiotic processes.

Mardon A. A.   Zhou G.

Martian Permafrost Properties and Formation Processes [#5064]
Terrestrial permafrost is sustained on Earth in vast expansive regions with surface temperatures below the water freezing point.

Mardon A. A.   Zhou G.   Mardon C.

Biology-Related Parameters and Potential Life Identifiers on Mars [#5071]
The search for life on Mars remains one of the many pressing questions of modern time. Previous investigations, most notably the Viking mission Labeled Release Life Detection Experience, showed results of martian microbial metabolism.

Pavlov A. A.   Davis J.   Johnson J.   Pavlov A. K.

Gas Pockets in the Shallow Martian Subsurface — A New Environmental Niche for Hypothesized Mars Extant Life [#5057]
Gas pockets in the martian shallow subsurface can form because of the migration of salts in the martian soil due to sublimation of subsurface ice or evaporation of briny water. Gas pockets is a new environmental niche for the extant life on Mars.

Raymond-Bouchard I.   Maggiori C.   Touchette D.   Magnuson E.   Goordial J.   Ricco A. J.   Whyte L. G.

Polar Cryoenvironments as Mars Analogues and the Development of a Micro Life Detection Platform [#5033]
The presentation will summarize recent highlights of our research investigating the microbial biodiversity/ecology in Mars analogue polar cryoenvironments (saline springs, permafrost) and the development of a prototype micro life detection platform.

Sholes S. F.   Krissansen-Totton J.   Catling D. C.

Biomass Limits on Subsurface Martian Life from Atmospheric Gases [#5019]
Abundant CO and H2 in Mars’ oxidizing atmosphere represent untapped energy sources for microbes. We calculate the maximum extant biomass consistent with this uneaten “free lunch.”

Sizemore H. G.   Demchenko V.   Zent A. P.   Rempel A. W.   Stillman D. E.

Habitability of Shallow Martian Ground Ice, Revisited [#5101]
We evaluate the habitability of thin films of unfrozen water in shallow ground ice over the past 10 Ma.

Steklov A. F.   Vidmachenko A. P.

Where and What Exactly Can Be the “Traces” of Life on Mars? [#5089]
Microorganisms have been discovered on our planet, which are in conditions similar to some regions of Mars. Traces of such life forms should be sought under the surface in places where water was in first hundreds of millions of years.

Yeager C. M.   Lanza N. L.   Marti-Arbona R.   Teshima M.   Lingappa U. F.   Fischer W. W.

Terrestrial Rock Varnish:  Implications for Biosignatures on Mars [#5060]
We report research aimed at 1) characterizing microbial species and processes involved in rock varnish formation, and 2) identification of organic biosignatures that can be used to determine the origins of terrestrial Mn-rich surfaces.

Yun P.

Search for Extant Life Through Human Mission on the Surface of Mars [#5024]
Through human mission, currently available sensing technologies to find microbes in atmosphere, water, ice, soil, rock of surface or subsurface on Earth can be utilized on Mars with necessary modification and adjustment.