Site selection for Mars exobiology

J. Farmer, D. Des Marais, R. Greeley, R. Landheim, H. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The selection of sites on Mars that have a high priority for exobiological research is fundamental for planning future exploration. The most immediate need is to identify targets for high resolution orbital imaging during the Mars Observer and Mars '94/96 missions that can be used to refine site priorities for surface exploration. We present an objective approach to site selection whereby individual sites are selected and scored, based on the presence of key geological features which indicate high priority environments. Prime sites are those that show evidence for the prolonged activity of liquid water and which have sedimentary deposits that are likely to have accumulated in environments faborable for life. High priority areas include fluvio-lacustrine (stream-fed lake systems), springs, and periglacial environments. Sites where mineralization may have occurred in the presence of organisms (e.g. springs) are given high priority in the search for a fossil record on Mars. A systematic review of Viking data for 83 sites in the Mars Landing Site Catalog /1/ resulted in the selection of 13 as being of exobiological interest. The descriptions of these sites were expanded to address exobiological concems. An additional five sites were identified for inclusion in the second edition of the MLSC. We plan to broaden our site selection activities to include a systematic global reconnaissance of Mars using Viking data, and will continue to refine site priorities for exobiological research based on data from future missions in order to define strategies for surface exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-162
Number of pages6
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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