A Mars Ecopoiesis Test Bed concept is proposed for development in a three-phase program concluding with a device for studying the survival of terrestrial life forms on the surface of Mars prior to abiological planetary engineering. Ecopoiesis is the concept of initiating life in a new place; more precisely, the creation of an ecosystem capable of supporting life. It is the concept of initiating “terraforming” using physical, chemical and biological means including the introduction of ecosystem-building pioneer organisms. The proposed concept will be subjected to extensive laboratory testing directed toward the ultimate emplacement of a test bed on (in) the surface of Mars to test (demonstrate) the activity of pioneer organisms selected on the basis of research on earth. To achieve this a device is proposed to penetrate and surround a sample of Martian regolith at a carefully selected site likely to experience transients of liquid water , completely seal itself to avoid planetary contamination, release carefully selected earth organisms (extremophiles like certain cyanobacteria), sense the presence or absence of a metabolic product (like O2), and report to a Mars-orbiting relay satellite. This will be the first major leap from laboratory studies into the implementation of experimental (as opposed to analytical) planetary in-situ research of greatest interest to planetary biology, ecopoiesis and terraforming.
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