a mission to Martian moon Phobos could return with alien life, experts at Purdue University have suggested. “A sample from Phobos, which is much easier to reach than the Red Planet itself, would almost surely contain Martian material blasted off from large asteroid impacts,” said Jay Melosh, a distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences and physics and aerospace engineering at Purdue.
“If life on Mars exists or existed within the last 10 million years, a mission to Phobos could yield our first evidence of life beyond Earth.” Melosh led a team chosen by NASA’s Planetary Protection Office to evaluate if a sample from Phobos could contain enough recent material from Mars to include viable Martian organisms. The study was commissioned to prepare for the failed 2011 Russian Phobos-Grunt mission, but there is continued international interest in a Phobos mission, he said. It will likely be a recurring topic as NASA reformulates its Mars Exploration Program.