Robotic astrobiology involves the remote projection of intelligent capabilities to planetary missions in the search for life, preferably with human-level intelligence. Planetary rovers would be true human surrogates capable of sophisticated decision-making to enhance their scientific productivity. We explore several key aspects of this capability: (i) visual texture analysis of rocks to enable their geological classification and so, astrobiological potential; (ii) serendipitous target acquisition whilst on the move; (iii) continuous extraction of regolith properties, including water ice whilst on the move; and (iv) deep learning-capable Bayesian net expert systems. Individually, these capabilities will provide enhanced scientific return for astrobiology missions, but together, they will provide full autonomous science capability.

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Keywords autonomous science, Mars rovers, robotic astrobiology
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Journal International Journal of Astrobiology
Ellery, A. (2017). Robotic astrobiology – prospects for enhancing scientific productivity of mars rover missions. International Journal of Astrobiology, 1–15. doi:10.1017/S1473550417000180