Is Searching for Martian Life a Priority for the Mars Community?

Fairen, A. G., Parro, V., Schulze Makuch, D., Whyte, L. 2018. Is Searching for Martian Life a Priority for the Mars Community?. Astrobiology 18, 2, 101-107, DOI: 10.1089/ast.2017.1772

We understand and respect the points raised by Rummel and Conley (2017) in response to our initial Forum Article (Fairén et al.,2017), which we acknowledge are informed and literate. Unfortunately, they are also unconvincing. Their comments clearly illustrate why we are not searching for life on Mars today and why we haven’t done so during the last decades. Hereafter, we respond point by point to their remarks. We examine with special attention Rummel and Conley’s (2017) statement that “the Mars community is not convinced that a mission to attempt detection of extant martian life is a high priority,” because in our view this sentence reflects an alarming disconnection between the opinions of the NASA Planetary Protection Officers and the actual priorities, goals, and desires of the Mars community. Note that, to address their comments specifically, we cite them as they were presented by Rummel and Conley (2017). We conclude that searching for life on Mars before it is too late requires a reassessment of current policies.

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