Palo Alto, California

Mars Human Precursors: ePanel Report

August 22, 2016

A virtual panel was held August 22-26, 2016 to explore essential precursor Mars surface activities which would be compelled by a 2025 Human landing on the surface of Mars. We assumed precursor missions on 26 month windows beginning in 2018. This is the report on that panel's inquiry. The discussion quickly focused on detection of any extant life on Mars, especially at the site of the human landing. With current technologies and current understanding of the scope of possible biological activity there is no single instrument which can convincing eliminate the presence of life on Mars. And because of the distribution of possible niches for life in the Mars environment a given landing site will necessitate multiple measurements with multiple instruments. The panel mostly believed that this life detection
investigation should be begun in precursor missions and be continued after the arrival of human crews. Specific instruments for initial and later investigations were discussed. In addition, the topics of best containment strategies for both human brought organisms and restricting exposure to any extant Mars biology were discussed. Also touched on were approaches to accessing water both as an investigations of science and as an important resource for human exploration. The panel explored understanding the toxicity of the landing site's surface materials and the need to demonstrate appropriate mitigation (e.g., chemical treatment of perchlorates) to prevent harm to human crew.

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