The crucial challenge to astrobiology research on Mars is for the astronaut crews to conduct the search for life past and present from a Mars surface base. The Mars base will require a highly specialized astrobiology science laboratory to facilitate this research. This paper presents an incremental strategy to develop the laboratory technology and facility necessary to enable the astrobiology investigation on Mars.

The distinguishing characteristic of an astrobiology research apparatus for the Mars surface science laboratory is that the research crew must work across a large pressure differential between the shirtsleeves cabin atmosphere and the Mars ambient atmosphere inside the apparatus. How to simulate that apparatus and its operations through Earth expeditions is an essential aspect of design development.

This development strategy involves four main phases: mobile field lab, research and development testbed for the astrobiology technology, a high altitude pressurized lab, and finally the Mars surface lab. This paper describes each phase in some detail. Each phase will provide an empirical test of the essential technologies and operations.

Cohen, Marc M. (2000 July). Design Development Strategy for the Mars Surface Astrobiology Laboratory (SAE 2000-01-2344). 30th International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES), Toulouse, France, 10-13 July 2000. Warrendale, Pennsylvania, USA: Society of Automotive Engineers.