An integrated, miniaturized, low-power instrument capable of the detection and early characterization of microbial life in the soil of Mars is proposed. Based on the detection and monitoring of ongoing metabolism as being the surest evidence for extant life, the experiments will probe for chirality in metabolism, for circadian rhythmicity, and for photosynthesis. However, the instrument package will also be able to detect biosignatures and a variety of other physical and chemical parameters of the Martian surface that have significance for life. These include the presence and the physical state of water, the existence of an oxidant, the pH and the penetrability of the soil. Using the legacy of the 1976 Viking Labeled Release (LR) life detection experiment in conjunction with state-of-the-art laser diode spectral analysis, the instrument can be flown stand-alone, with or without a rover, or as part of a Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)-type mission. Sterility for experiment integrity and for planetary protection is provided.