The Mars Science Laboratory mission has comprehensively interrogated the surface environment of Mars as it explores Gale Crater. Both chemical and physical attributes of the present environment have been measured over the course of the mission, enabling us to compare the present state of the martian surface with the environmental requirements of prokaryotic microbes. While this approach does not exclude the possibility of martian life that may have evolved to adapt to the present conditions, it is advantageous in that it allows us to evaluate environmental requirements of known life and also provide insight into the likelihood of forward contamination by Earth organisms with the comparison of their environmental requirements with the measured attributes of the environment at Gale Crater. We have already modeled a paleoenvironment with high habitability potential (HP) based upon chemistry, mineralogy and other geological evidence such as sedimentary structures and larger scale geomorphology . In this report, we turn our attention to the present HP of the Yellowknife Bay area, including the importance of the physical environmental metrics such as atmospheric pressure, air and ground temperature, ionizing radiation, wind speed and direction, slope, etc.
Exobiology; Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
International Conference on Mars; Jul 14, 2014 - Jul 18, 2014; Pasadena, CA; United States