From Habitability to Life on Mars - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128099353

From Habitability to Life on Mars

1st Edition

Editors: Nathalie Cabrol Edmond Grin
Paperback ISBN: 9780128099353
Imprint: Elsevier
Published Date: 1st June 2018
Page Count: 400
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From Habitability to Life on Mars explores the current state of knowledge and questions about 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 the exploration strategies of this record.

Further, 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, From Habitability to Life on Mars will conclude by opening on the critical question of the implications and ethics of finding life on Mars.

Through a unique collection of 14 chapters, this book will provide readers the best information on the most critical questions about habitability and life on Mars, from the people who are actually making the Mars exploration happen.

Key Features

  • Edited by the lead on a NASA project that searches for habitability and life on Mars leading to the Mars 2020 mission, allowing for a unique and exciting perspective
  • Presents the evidence, the questions and the answers we have today (including a summary of the current state of knowledge in advance of the ESA ExoMars and NASA Mars 2020 missions) and those we still don’t, and shows why Mars might be the only place in the Solar System where we might be able to understand the origin of life on Earth
  • Includes contributions from authors directly involved in past, current, and upcoming Mars missions who explore the most extreme sites on Earth as Mars analogues to understand how to search for habitability and life on Mars
  • 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

1. Searching for the Signatures of Life on Mars: The Quest Begins
2. Habitability as a conceptual Framework for Astrobiological Exploration
3. Decoding Mars Habitability from Orbit –Are the Recurring Slope Lineae Habitable?
4. Early Habitability at Gusev and Meridiani
5. Was the Origin of Life Plausible on Mars?
6. Environmental Extremes and the Evolution of Mars Habitability
7. Archean Lakes as Analogues for Habitable Martian Paleoenvironments
8. The Relevance of Habitability Indicators of Hot Spring Deposits for Mars Astrobiology Missions
9. Habitability and Biomarker Preservation in the Martian Near-Surface Radiation Environment
10. Adapting and Surviving Increasing Radiation
11. Where to Search on Mars?
12. The NASA Mars 2020 Rover Mission
13. ExoMars
14. The Ethics of Searching for Life on Mars


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© Elsevier 2018
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About the Editor

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