Searching for Life in the Solar System ... And Beyond

A Research Discussion Meeting
London, UK - 31 October 1996


H Wanke, Max-Planck-Institut fur Chemie, Saarstr. 23, D-55122 Mainz, Germany

Future exploration of Mars will concentrate on:

Clearly, topic 5 is the most exciting and most interesting questin to mankind. However, the other four topics should not be ignored in our rush for the search of life as they contain questions of very high scientific importance in respect to comparative planetology. To study the internal structure of Mars on clearly needs a network (at least three) or seismic stations, operating simultaneously. The same holds for the study of atmospheric processes. Both were major goals for the proposed international InterMarsNet mission which unfortunately did not get the support of the decision making bodies of ESA. More precise measruements of the elemental and isotopic composition of the constituents of the Martian atmosphere are very important and can be obtained by a single dedicated lander. In order to acquire better data on the bulk chemical composition of Mars it is essential that the data on the chemical composition of Martian meteorites are augmented by similar data of a larger number of igneous rocks from different geological units on Mars either by in situ analyses or by analyses on returned samples. The bulk composition of Mars and its comparison to that of the Earth will allow to improve the understanding of the formation of planets in the inner solar system considerably. From the knowledge on the evolution of the Martian atmosphere and the abundance of volatiles it is hoped to get insight to the causes of the dramatic climate change to which Mars was obviously subjected to.