The Biological Oxidant and Life Detection (BOLD) Mission: An outline for a new mission to Mars

Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Joop M. Houtkooper, Michael Knoblauch, Roberto Furfaro, Wolfgang Fink, Alberto G. Fairén, Hojatollah Vali, James N. Head, Darlene S.S. Lim, James Dohm, Louis N. Irwin, Mike Daly, Dale Andersen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


The Viking mission was the only mission to date that conducted life detection experiments. It revealed ambiguous and still controversial results. New findings and hypotheses urge a re-evaluation of the Viking results and a re-evaluation of the evidence for the possible presence of life on Mars in general. Recent findings of abundant water ice on Mars, the presence of liquid contemporary water on the Martian surface, and the detection of methane in the Martian atmosphere further support this possibility. Current missions to be launched focus on habitability considerations (e.g., NASA Phoenix, NASA Mars Science Laboratory), but shy away from directly testing for life on Mars, with the potential exception of the ESA ExoMars mission. If these currently planned missions collect positive evidence toward habitability and the possible existence of extraterrestrial (microbial) life on Mars, it would be timely to propose a new mission to Mars with a strong life detection component. We propose such a mission called BOLD: Biological Oxidant and Life Detection Mission. The BOLD mission objective would be to quantify the amount of hydrogen peroxide existing in the Martian soil and to test for processes typically associated with life. Six landing packages are projected to land on Mars that include a limited power supply, a set of oxidant and life detection experiments, and a transmitter, which is able to transmit information via an existing Mars orbiter back to Earth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInstruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X
StatePublished - 2007
EventInstruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 28 2007Aug 30 2007

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherInstruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology X
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • BOLD
  • ESA ExoMars
  • ESA Mars express
  • Life detection
  • Mars
  • Mars science laboratory
  • Microbial life
  • Mission
  • Oxidant
  • Phoenix
  • Viking
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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