There is so far only one example of life in the Universe, but many habitable worlds, even in our own Solar System. This motivates the search for a second genesis of life. In this talk, the concept of a second genesis of life will be discussed; past and current strategies to search for evidence of life will be critically examined; and a new approach to search for evidence of a second genesis on Mars and on Icy Moons will be proposed. The new strategy seeks to (1) minimize assumptions regarding the nature of a second genesis of life, (2) maximize science return even in absence of life; and (3) promote a new period of Astrobiology exploration that is grounded on the scientific methods of strong inference and multiple hypotheses, a departure from more traditional, discovery-driven, efforts.
Alfonso Davila is a Research Scientist in the Exobiology Branch at NASA Ames Research Center. His research focuses on the search for a second genesis of life in the Solar System, using terrestrial analog environments to assess the potential habitability of other planetary bodies, and developing strategies for life detection based on first-principles in biology and biochemistry. Currently he conducts field investigations in the most extreme deserts on Earth; provides scientific advice for the maturation of instruments for space exploration; and helps develop mission concepts to search for evidence of life on Mars, Europa and Enceladus.”