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1 October 2007 The Biological Oxidant and Life Detection (BOLD) mission: an outline for a new mission to Mars
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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.
© (2007) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
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, and Dale Andersen "The Biological Oxidant and Life Detection (BOLD) mission: an outline for a new mission to Mars", Proc. SPIE 6694, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X, 66940O (1 October 2007); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.732155
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