This three-and-one-half-day conference will focus on understanding and discussing strategies for exploring for extant life on Mars. Inspired by the important conference, Biosignature Preservation and Detection in Mars Analog Environments (May 16–18, 2016; Lake Tahoe) that addressed the search for ancient life, we are promoting broad community discussion of the numerous extant life hypotheses that have been advanced over the years and that have evolved in response to discoveries by on-going Mars missions.

We are especially interested in hypotheses that can be tested by means of robotic spacecraft sent to Mars, and hypotheses that can be tested with or without the benefit of sample acquisition systems. The four primary questions posited are:

  1. Where would new robotic spacecraft be sent to test for extant life on Mars?
  2. What would they sample?
  3. What would be measured in such samples?
  4. Are there viable strategies that don’t involve sample collection?


The key aspects of the conference will be time-allocated to discussion and the extent to which we can identify or establish consensus positions involving any of the above questions.

The location at Carlsbad, New Mexico offers many subsurface and surface examples of extremophile microbial communities. A field trip to Carlsbad Caverns will be offered as an illustration of one hypothesis that life may exist in the martian subsurface, possibly accessible via martian caves.

More information at https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lifeonmars2019.

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