From Habitability to Life on Mars

From Habitability to Life on Mars

1st Edition - June 29, 2018

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  • Editors: Nathalie Cabrol, Edmond Grin
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128099353
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128099360

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From Habitability to Life on Mars explores the current state of knowledge and questions on the past habitability of Mars and the role that rapid environmental changes may have played in the ability of prebiotic chemistry to transition to life. It investigates the role that such changes may have played in the preservation of biosignatures in the geological record and what this means for exploration strategies. Throughout the book, the authors show how the investigation of terrestrial analogs to early Martian habitats under various climates and environmental extremes provide critical clues to understand where, what and how to search for biosignatures on Mars. The authors present an introduction to the newest developments and state-of-the-art remote and in situ detection strategies and technologies that are being currently developed to support the upcoming ExoMars and Mars 2020 missions. They show how the current orbital and ground exploration is guiding the selection for future landing sites. Finally, the book concludes by discussing the critical question of the implications and ethics of finding life on Mars.

Key Features

  • Edited by the lead on a NASA project that searches for habitability and life on Mars leading to the Mars 2020 mission
  • Presents the evidence, questions and answers we have today (including a summary of the current state of knowledge in advance of the ESA ExoMars and NASA Mars 2020 missions)
  • Includes contributions from authors directly involved in past, current and upcoming Mars missions
  • Provides key information as to how Mars rovers, such as ExoMars and Mars 2020, will address the search for life on Mars with their instrumentation


Planetary scientists and students (undergrads to postdocs), geologists, geophysicists, petrologists, geochemists, mineralogists, and astrobiologists

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    Nathalie Cabrol
    1. Habilitability as a Tool in Astrobiological Exploration
    Jack Farmer
    2. An Origin of Life on Mars?
    Andre Brack
    3. Remote Detection of Phyllosilicates on Mars and Implications for Climate and Habitability
    4. Are Recurring Slope Linae (RSL) Habitable?
    Alfred McEwen
    5. Martian Habitability as Inferred from Landed Missions
    Ray Arvidson and J. Catalano
    6. Archean Lakes as Analogues for Habitable Martian Environments
    7. Evolution of Altiplanic Lake Habitats and Biosignatures at the Pleistocene/Holocene Transition
    8. Siliceous Hot Spring Deposits: Why they Remain Key Astrobiological Targets
    9. UV Radiation on Mars
    Donat Hader
    10. Habitability and Biomarker Preservation in the Martian Near-Surface Environment
    11. Mars 2020
    12. ExoMars

Product details

  • No. of pages: 390
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2018
  • Published: June 29, 2018
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128099353
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128099360

About the Editors

Nathalie Cabrol

Cabrol is the Principal Investigator of the SETI Institute team that was selected by the NASA Astrobiology Institute in October 2014 to lead a 5-year project entitled: Changing Planetary Environments and the Fingerprints of Life. See: The project is about the search for habitability and life on Mars leading to the Mars 2020 mission. Additionally, as of August 7th 2015, Cabrol became the Director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute, leading the science for multidisciplinary research scientists who search for life beyond Earth from prebiotic chemistry, to the exploration of the Solar System, the exoplanets, and the search for technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations.

Affiliations and Expertise

SETI Carl Sagan Center/NASA Ames Research Center, USA

Edmond Grin

Grin has an academic background in hydrogeology, and for 30 years worked on dam and hydropower projects. His familiarity with the characteristics of lakes and rivers on Earth makes him especially valuable when it comes to looking for similar features on Mars, where NASA’s exploration strategy has been to “follow the water.” Grin, together with his wife, Cabrol, championed Gusev crater – an apparent lake basin – as the landing site for the Spirit rover. A new three-year project in which Grin is involved, called “Life in the Atacama”, will demonstrate that autonomous robot rovers can reliably detect primitive microorganisms. The rovers will be field tested in Chile’s Atacama desert, an earthly analog for the landscapes of Mars.

Affiliations and Expertise

SETI Carl Sagan Center/NASA Ames Research Center, USA

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