NASA's Astrobiology Institute (NAI) announced that the SETI Institute has been selected as a new member of theNAI for a 5-year research program, "Changing Planetary Environments and the Fingerprints of Life."
Led by planetary geologist and Senior Research Scientist, Nathalie Cabrol, the team's work will address key questions. How can we identify the signature of life not just here on Earth, but on Mars as well? How does a planet's changing environment impact the evidence for life?
"I am absolutely thrilled that the SETI Institute is joining the NAI. In the next five years, along with our partner institutions, we will focus on decoding the fingerprints of life--the biosignatures--in extreme environments here on Earth to help us look for life on Mars. Our goal is to understand the survival of biosignatures from an early, wetter Mars to the harsh environment of the red planet today. Understanding the role that the changing Martian environment has had on biosignatures will inform us on how to recognize these signatures, and how to explore them. We bring to this ambitious quest new exploration tools and, with NASA's Mars 2020 on the horizon, the timing could not be more perfect," stated Cabrol. "Personally and professionally, this is a tremendously exciting project because we aim to develop a roadmap to biosignature exploration for Mars for future missions."To read more, click here.