NASA has selected a dozen proposals for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. Among the selected proposals is the Mars Ecopoiesis Test Bed by Eugene Boland (Techshot Inc.). (“Ecopoiesis” is the creation of an ecosystem capable of supporting life.)
The experiment calls for placing a container on (or under) the surface of Mars to test the activity of Earth organisms on a sample of Martian regolith. The site chosen would be one likely to experience liquid water from time to time. The sealed container would release carefully selected Earth organisms (extremophiles like certain cyanobacteria) to interact with a soil sample, look for a metabolic byproducts (such as oxygen), and report results to a Mars-orbiting relay satellite.
(Among the 12 proposals NAIC selected for further study, this is the only Mars-related project.)