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Mars Analogues for Space Exploration

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.
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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)

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THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 448 365,50

DEUTSCHES ZENTRUM FUER LUFT - UND RAUMFAHRT EV

Germany

EU Contribution

€ 387 389,39

UNIVERSIDAD AUTONOMA DE MADRID

Spain

EU Contribution

€ 209 953,20

MATIS OHF

Iceland

EU Contribution

€ 93 917,47

UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN

Netherlands

EU Contribution

€ 249 441,75

INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE TECNICA AEROESPACIAL ESTEBAN TERRADAS

Spain

EU Contribution

€ 311 661,75

UNIVERSITAET REGENSBURG

Germany

EU Contribution

€ 34 909,10

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

France

EU Contribution

€ 306 410,25

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCIL

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 12 049,99

MEDIZINISCHE UNIVERSITAT GRAZ

Austria

EU Contribution

€ 255 799,70

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 607297

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    13 December 2013

  • End date

    1 January 2018

Funded under:

FP7-SPACE

  • Overall budget:

    € 3 275 669,64

  • EU contribution

    € 2 499 903

Coordinated by:

FONDATION EUROPEENNE DE LA SCIENCE

France

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