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Proceedings Paper

The Biological Oxidant and Life Detection (BOLD) mission: an outline for a new mission to Mars
Author(s): Dirk Schulze-Makuch; Joop M. Houtkooper; Michael Knoblauch; Roberto Furfaro; Wolfgang Fink; Alberto G. Fairén; Hojatollah Vali; James N. Head; Darlene S. S. Lim; James Dohm; Louis N. Irwin; Mike Daly; Dale Andersen
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Paper Abstract

The Viking mission was the only mission to date that conducted life detection experiments. It revealed ambiguous and still controversial results. New findings and hypotheses urge a re-evaluation of the Viking results and a re-evaluation of the evidence for the possible presence of life on Mars in general. Recent findings of abundant water ice on Mars, the presence of liquid contemporary water on the Martian surface, and the detection of methane in the Martian atmosphere further support this possibility. Current missions to be launched focus on habitability considerations (e.g., NASA Phoenix, NASA Mars Science Laboratory), but shy away from directly testing for life on Mars, with the potential exception of the ESA ExoMars mission. If these currently planned missions collect positive evidence toward habitability and the possible existence of extraterrestrial (microbial) life on Mars, it would be timely to propose a new mission to Mars with a strong life detection component. We propose such a mission called BOLD: Biological Oxidant and Life Detection Mission. The BOLD mission objective would be to quantify the amount of hydrogen peroxide existing in the Martian soil and to test for processes typically associated with life. Six landing packages are projected to land on Mars that include a limited power supply, a set of oxidant and life detection experiments, and a transmitter, which is able to transmit information via an existing Mars orbiter back to Earth.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 October 2007
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 6694, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X, 66940O (1 October 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.732155
Show Author Affiliations
Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Washington State Univ. (United States)
Joop M. Houtkooper, Justus-Liebig Univ. of Giessen (Germany)
Michael Knoblauch, Washington State Univ. (United States)
Roberto Furfaro, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Wolfgang Fink, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Alberto G. Fairén, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Hojatollah Vali, McGill Univ. (United States)
James N. Head, Raytheon Missile Systems (United States)
Darlene S. S. Lim, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
James Dohm, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Louis N. Irwin, Univ. of Texas at El Paso (United States)
Mike Daly, MDA, Ltd. (United States)
Dale Andersen, Carl Sagan Ctr. for the Study of Life in the Universe (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6694:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Y. Rozanov; Paul C. W. Davies, Editor(s)

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