Interpreting in situ enigmatic features (body or trace fossils, isotopic or molecular signatures, chemical disequilibria, or conspicuous mineralization) as indicators of biological activity is a notoriously difficult task. The goal of characterizing biosignatures is not only to identify attributes as uniquely produced by biological processes, but also to recognize these attributes as unambiguous indicators of life. Understanding and recognizing the biogeochemical process that result in biosignatures, both in the lab and in field-based studies of terrestrial analogues of potentially habitable environments beyond Earth, will provide valuable information for future life detection missions. Emphasis will be placed on interdisciplinary studies that advance our understanding of biosignature formation mechanisms and detection methods.
Conveners: Alexandra Pontefract (University of Western Ontario) and Haley M. Sapers (University of Western Ontario)