Our Team is focused on research that is fundamentally built around a broad interpretation of Life Detection, which includes not only detection of the organic signatures of life in modern (and ancient) environments, on Earth or other planetary bodies, but also the inorganic signatures of life, which may have the greatest fidelity over billion-year timescales and complex geologic histories. Recognizing that development of robust biosignatures is challenging, our research plan back-stops development of the Signatures of Life with proxies that simultaneously inform us about the Habitability of ancient environments on Earth and other planetary bodies, including Mars.
The research efforts of the Wisconsin Astrobiology Research Consortium (WARC) follow three themes:
- Developing Methods for Life Detection
- Biosignatures: Developing the Tools for Detection of Ancient Life
and Determining Paleoenvironments
- Life Detection in the Ancient Terrestrial Rock Record
We are in our second five-year grant with the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), a multidisciplinary umbrella for conducting research on the origin and evolution of life on Earth and elsewhere in the Solar System. Our team is led by 13 primary investigators and 30 collaborators from 24 institutions across five countries. We have made connections with six current or former NAI teams, and our proposal contains extensive research collaborations with the Australian Center for Astrobiology, in addition to collaborations with researchers in Canada, The Netherlands, and South Africa. We are one of 16 teams who are members of NAI. NAI-sponsored research and outreach efforts involve hundreds of scientists and educators with backgrounds and interests that range from geology to biology to astronomy.