HOW WOULD A LANDING PARTY SAMPLE LIFE ON MARS?
METHODS TESTING AT THE MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION,
APRIL 7-20, 2002
Nancy B. Wood, Ph. D,
Microbiologist, Crew Five.
Considerable evidence exists to suggest that conditions permissive for some type of microbial life might exist on Mars. Strategies for detecting putative lifeforms present considerable challenges, and are necessarily based on assumptions regarding their chemistry and ecology. The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) provides an analog setting for testing methods and hypotheses under simulated Martian operational conditions. We had three main objectives during our rotation; first, to test sample collection methods under simulation; second, to evaluate the human impact on the near-habitat microflora, and finally, to integrate the entire crew into biology activities. In the future, there should be a broad science mission for MDRS involving both biology and geology, in order to provide for sustained scientific achievement.
KEYWORDS: Desert microbiology, Microbial sampling, Exobiology