The current framework for life detection for Mars exploration uses the ancient biosignatures paradigm where robust organics and former lacustrine environments provide assessments of habitability. This framework does not provide the science community with direct evidence of extant life potentially inhabiting these regions. With the recent Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey emphasizing a focus on extant life searches, it is critical to revisit and update our scientific investigations and datasets to more definitively interpret potential extant biology outside of our terrestrial biosphere.
From their fieldwork and laboratory experiences this team will develop and showcase geobiological, geochemical, isotopic, spectroscopic, and spatial measurements of cellular life. Using these measurements, the study will develop a new framework for biological validation for future missions with science driving the instrument development.