Community Report from the Biosignatures Standards of Evidence Workshop
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Community Report from the Biosignatures Standards of Evidence Workshop


The search for life beyond the Earth is the overarching goal of the NASA Astrobiology Program, and it underpins the science of missions that explore the environments of Solar System planets and exoplanets. However, the detection of extraterrestrial life, in our Solar System and beyond, is sufficiently challenging that it is likely that multiple measurements and approaches, spanning disciplines and missions, will be needed to make a convincing claim. Life detection will therefore not be an instantaneous process, and it is unlikely to be unambiguous-yet it is a high-stakes scientific achievement that will garner an enormous amount of public interest. Current and upcoming research efforts and missions aimed at detecting past and extant life could be supported by a consensus framework to plan for, assess and discuss life detection claims (c.f. Green et al., 2021). Such a framework could help increase the robustness of biosignature detection and interpretation, and improve communication with the scientific community and the public. In response to this need, and the call to the community to develop a confidence scale for standards of evidence for biosignature detection (Green et al., 2021), a community-organized workshop was held on July 19-22, 2021. The meeting was designed in a fully virtual (flipped) format. Preparatory materials including readings, instructional videos and activities were made available prior to the workshop, allowing the workshop schedule to be fully dedicated to active community discussion and prompted writing sessions. To maximize global interaction, the discussion components of the workshop were held during business hours in three different time zones, Asia/Pacific, European and US, with daily information hand-off between group organizers.

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