MASE (Mars Analogues for Space Exploration) is a collaborative, four-year research project supported by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) Grant Agreement n° 607297.

About MASE

The MASE project aims to advance our ability to assess the habitability of Mars and to detect life through the study of anaerobic microbes.

This assessment depends on knowledge of whether the combined environmental stresses experienced on Mars (e.g., high radiation, high salt, low temperatures) are compatible with life and whether a record of that life could ever be detected.

MASE is the first systematic project to collect and study anaerobic microbes, their physiology and preservation potential, from analogue Mars-like environments. This represents an important link between Earth and space environments.

MASE provides a new set of model anaerobic organisms to the astrobiology community, as well as fundamental new insights into the adaptations of life to Mars-like conditions and the potential preservation of their biosignatures (scientific evidence of past or present life).

Project Consortium

  • European Science Foundation: Mr. Nicolas Walter and Dr. Patricia Cabezas– Administrative Co-ordinators
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS): Dr. Frances Westall
  • European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA): Dr. Frances Westall
  • The German Aerospace Center (DLR): Dr. Petra Rettberg
  • Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial – Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CAB): Dr. Felipe GómezGómez
  • Leiden Institute of Chemistry: Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund
  • MATĺS ltd.: Dr. Viggo Thór Marteinsson
  • Medical University of Graz: Dr. Christine Moissl-Eichinger
  • Universidad Autónoma de Madrid: Prof. Ricardo Amils
  • The University of Edinburgh: Prof. Charles Cockell – Scientific Coordinator

Role of ESF

Over the past years, ESF has been initiating and contributing to a variety of European initiatives to advance research on life in extra-terrestrial environments. 

ESF co-ordinates all administrative and financial aspects of the MASE project, it is also in charge of project communication and the international network.

Timeline & Funding

MASE was started on 1 January 2014 for a period of four years. MASE operates with European Commission’s support under 7th Framework Programme (Grant Agreement n° 607297) with a total budget of approximately €2.5M.

Project Portal

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