Carol, Zara, Ila
Working Group 2, composed of Carol, Zara, and Ila, aims to assess the potential biological risks of Mars to Earth during the Foresight Space Workshop ’23. Their objective is to avoid introducing any potentially threatening biology from Mars without proper evaluation. The current approach by NASA does not adequately address the presence of life on Mars, and there is a lack of communication between the human exploration program and the science mission directorate. The proposed new approach suggests treating the biological risk of Mars like any other spacecraft risk, including a risk mitigation plan and a robotic precursor mission. Cooperation between different communities, such as the human exploration program and the science mission directorate, is essential for success. Proving the absence of life on Mars involves considering the likelihood of interaction with life in the explored environment. It is important to establish a baseline for comparison by sending a life detection mission to the least likely place to find life on Mars. Proving a negative can be challenging, as insufficient sampling may wrongly indicate the absence of life. If life is found, further assessment is required to ensure it does not pose a threat to humans or Earth’s biosphere. Reevaluating past missions and current capabilities, such as the Viking mission and the Icebreaker mission, can provide valuable insights and improve the detection of life on Mars.