Astrobiology through the ages of Mars: the study of terrestrial analogues to understand the habitability of Mars.


Mars has undergone three main climatic stages throughout its geological history, beginning with a water-rich epoch, followed by a cold and semi-arid era, and transitioning into present-day arid and very cold desert conditions. These global climatic eras also represent three different stages of planetary habitability: an early, potentially habitable stage when the basic requisites for life as we know it were present (liquid water and energy); an intermediate extreme stage, when liquid solutions became scarce or very challenging for life; and the most recent stage during which conditions on the surface have been largely uninhabitable, except perhaps in some isolated niches. Our understanding of the evolution of Mars is now sufficient to assign specific terrestrial environments to each of these periods. Through the study of Mars terrestrial analogues, we have assessed and constrained the habitability conditions for each of these stages, the geochemistry of the surface, and the likelihood for the preservation of organic and inorganic biosignatures. The study of these analog environments provides important information to better understand past and current mission results as well as to support the design and selection of instruments and the planning for future exploratory missions to Mars.

DOI: 10.1089/ast.2009.0440
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@article{Fairn2010AstrobiologyTT, title={Astrobiology through the ages of Mars: the study of terrestrial analogues to understand the habitability of Mars.}, author={Alberto G Fair{\'e}n and Alfonso F Davila and Darlene S. S. Lim and Nathan E Bramall and Rosalba Bonaccorsi and Jhony R. Zavaleta and Esther R. Uceda and Carol R. Stoker and Jacek Wierzchos and James M. Dohm and Ricardo Amils and Dale T. Andersen and Christopher P. McKay}, journal={Astrobiology}, year={2010}, volume={10 8}, pages={821-43} }