Until recent years the origin of life and its possible occurrence elsewhere in the universe have been matters for speculation only. The rapid growth of molecular biology since 1940 has, to be sure, made it possible to discuss life's origins in far more precise and explicit terms than was possible earlier; and the subject entered a new experimental phase in the 1950's with successful abiogenic synthesis of important biochemical substances in conditions simulating the presumptive environment of the primitive Earth. But the real transformation that the subject has undergone stems from the spectacular growth of space technology in the last decade. The possibility of life's origin and occurrence on planets other than ours is no longer limited to idle speculation: it has entered the realm of the testable, of science in the strict sense. Given the rockets now available, and especially those available by 1969, it has become fully realistic to consider plans for the biological exploration of Mars.
Biology and the Exploration of Mars: Report of a Study concludes that the exploration of Mars—motivated by biological questions—does indeed merit the highest scientific priority in the nation's space program over the next decades. This report further concludes that the favorable opportunities for exploration between 1969 and 1973 can and should be exploited as vigorously as possible. The report considers the potential scientific yields of exploration, the possibility of life occurring on Mars and our ability to detect it with available and foreseeable technology, and gains from further astronomical work from Earth, by Martian fly-by missions, Martian orbiters, and Martian landers. Biology and the Exploration of Mars: Report of a Study contains the findings of the study, a postscript discussing the significance of the observations obtained during the flight of Mariner IV past Mars, and a collection of the working papers that formed the basis of discussions.
National Research Council. 1966. Biology and the Exploration of Mars. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/12409.
|Part I: Biology and the Exploration of Mars, Summary and Conclusions||1-18|
|Postscript: October 1965||19-22|
|Part II: Life: Its Nature and Origin, 1 What is Life?||23-40|
|2 The Origin of Life||41-70|
|Part III: The Cosmic Setting, 3 The Solar System as a Abode of Life||71-113|
|4 Biological Materials in Carbonaceous Chrondrites||114-124|
|Part IV: Recognition of Life and Some Terrestrial Precedents, 5 Signs of Life||125-140|
|6 Optical Asymmetry||141-146|
|7 The Biochemestry of Terrestrial Soils||147-163|
|8 Properties of Desert Soils||164-186|
|9 Remote Detection of Terrestrial Life||187-210|
|Part IV: Some Extrapolations and Speculations, 10 Development of Rigorous Tests for Extraterrestrial Life||211-228|
|11 A Model of Martial Ecology||229-242|
|12 Exotic Biochemistry in Exobiology||243-251|
|13 Higher Organisms on Mars||252-258|
|14 Some Terrestrial Programs||259-263|
|15 Potential Yields of Biological Relevance from Remote Investigations of Mars||264-282|
|16 Launch Opportunities and Seasonal Activity on Mars||283-291|
|17 Space Vehicles for Planetary Missions||292-322|
|Part VII: Martial Landings: Unmanned, 18 Biological Objective and Strategy for the Design of a Space Vehicle to be Landed on Mars||323-330|
|19 The Automated Biological Laboratory||331-346|
|20 Analytical Methods for Landers||347-426|
|21 The Use of Martian Materials in the Search for Martial Life||427-430|
|Part VIII: Martian Landings: Manned, 22 Impact of Manned Spacecraft on the Exobiology Program||431-435|
|23 Prospects for Manned Mars Missions||436-442|
|24 "Back Contamination" and Quarantine Problems and Perspectives||443-446|
|Part IX: Avoiding the Contamination of Mars, 25 The Nature of the Problems||447-462|
|26 The Objectives and Technology of Spacecraft Sterilization||463-466|
|27 Spacecraft Sterilization||467-469|
|28 Decontamination Standards for Martial Exploration Programs||470-481|
|29 The Special Problem of Encapsulated Contaminants||482-484|
|Appendix I: Instrumentation for the Detection of Extraterrestrial Life||485-502|
|Appendix II: Potential Application of Electron-Optical Methods to Storage of Information for Direct Retrieval||503-506|
|Appendix III: List of Participants and Contributors||507-509|
|Appendix IV: Note on the Space Science Board||510-518|
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