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Mars Analogues for Space Exploration

Objective

Assessing the habitability of Mars and detecting life, if it was ever there, depends on knowledge of whether the combined environmental stresses experienced on Mars are compatible with life and whether a record of that life could ever be detected. However, our current ability to make these assessments is hampered by a lack of knowledge of how the combined effect of different environmental stresses influence the survival and growth of organisms. In particular, many combinations of stress, such as high radiation conditions combined with high salt and low temperature, relevant for early Mars, have not been investigated.
Furthermore, a lack of experimental studies on how anaerobic microorganisms respond to such stresses undermine our knowledge of Mars as a location for life since the planet is essentially anoxic. Even if life can be shown to be potentially supported on Mars, there exist no systematic studies of how organisms would be preserved.
MASE proposes to address these limitations in our knowledge and advance our ability to assess the habitability of Mars and detect life. In particular, MASE intends to:
- Isolate and characterise anaerobic microorganisms from selected sites that closely match environmental conditions that might have been habitable on early Mars.
- Study their responses to realistic combined environmental stresses that might have been experienced in habitable environments on Mars.
- Investigate their potential for fossilisation on Mars and their detectability by carrying out a systematic study of the detectability of artificially fossilised organisms exposed to known stresses.
Cross cutting aspects of i) optimised methodologies for sample management and experimental process and ii) optimised methodologies for life detection will also be thoroughly considered.
MASE will allow us to gain knowledge on Mars habitability and on adaptation of life to extremes, it will also present opportunities to optimise mission operations and life detection.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/space exploration

Call for proposal

FP7-SPACE-2013-1
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

CP-FP - Small or medium-scale focused research project

Coordinator

FONDATION EUROPEENNE DE LA SCIENCE
Address
Quai Lezay Marnesia 1
67080 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Activity type
Other
EU contribution
€ 190 004,90
Administrative Contact
Philippa Rowe (Ms)

Participants (10)

THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 448 365,50
Address
Old College, South Bridge
EH8 9YL Edinburgh
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Angela Noble (Ms)
DEUTSCHES ZENTRUM FUR LUFT - UND RAUMFAHRT EV
Germany
EU contribution
€ 387 389,39
Address
Linder Hohe
51147 Koln
Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Luft Tanja (Mrs)
UNIVERSIDAD AUTONOMA DE MADRID
Spain
EU contribution
€ 209 953,20
Address
Calle Einstein 3 Ciudad Univ Cantoblanco Rectorado
28049 Madrid
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Mª CARMEN Puerta (Ms)
MATIS OHF
Iceland
EU contribution
€ 93 917,47
Address
Vinlandsleid 12
113 Reykjavik
Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Oddur Gunnarsson (Dr)
UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN
Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 249 441,75
Address
Rapenburg 70
2311 EZ Leiden
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Tonnis Brouwer (Mr)
INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE TECNICA AEROESPACIAL ESTEBAN TERRADAS
Spain
EU contribution
€ 311 661,75
Address
Cr Torrejon Ajalvir Km 4 2
28850 Torrejon De Ardoz Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Maria Paz Blanco Temprano (Ms)
UNIVERSITAET REGENSBURG

Participation ended

Germany
EU contribution
€ 34 909,10
Address
Universitatsstrasse 31
93053 Regensburg
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Johanna Kronberger
CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
France
EU contribution
€ 306 410,25
Address
Rue Michel Ange 3
75794 Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Bastien Pincanon (Mr)
NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCIL

Participation ended

United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 12 049,99
Address
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
SN2 1EU Swindon Wiltshire
Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Lucy Gonzalez Pacheco Sosa (Ms)
MEDIZINISCHE UNIVERSITAT GRAZ
Austria
EU contribution
€ 255 799,70
Address
Auenbruggerplatz 2
8036 Graz
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Carolin Auer (Dr)