MDRS is a Mars analogue station where volunteers live in Southeast Utah desert for two weeks and perform experiments. Some of these experiments are done in conjunction with public outreach for middle school students.

I plan to write a MDRS research proposal for conducting a small experiment related to astrobiology / geobiology / geobiochemistry. I aim to make the experiment:

1) Simple (middle school aged students could comprehend its main ideas),

2) Inexpensive (less than $500 of science equipment is needed),

3) Fast (can be done by one person within 2 weeks of full dedication).

As a side note, the station does have a microscope that I could use.

I would have access to the surrounding areas and can collect soil, rock, shell fossils, etc. Previous groups have discovered methanogens in the soil and endoliths in the rocks. However, without much background in astrobiology, I am uncertain how much expensive equipment and time was needed for these experiments.

I am mostly hoping for ideas on how I could conduct a simple and feasible astrobiology experiment at MDRS that could be shared with middle school students. Such as searching for life, biosignatures, etc. As I do not have experience searching for life and biosignatures in the field, I am truly unsure of how to approach this in a reasonable manner. Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 Methane generation is one possible signature, and natural gas sensors are cheap and commonplace. Since methane can be found everywhere people or other mammals can be found (as well as other forms of life) the problem would be trying to do an experiment that is sensitive to methanogenesis from soil samples but not anything else. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 11 at 10:26

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