No protocol exists to determine whether life found on other planets or in space is indigenous to its locale, or is the result of contamination from probes sent by Earth. NASA seeks such a protocol in anticipation of manned exploration of Mars. The protocol is likely to be performed by humans visiting Mars. Any suggested protocol should be robust, yet simple enough to be performed in the field under difficult conditions using a minimal amount of consumables and by equipment carried (at most) on light exploration vehicles.

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