We propose a new type of robotic mission for the exploration of Mars. This mission is called Vanguard and represents the fruits of a collaboration that is both international and multi-disciplinary. Vanguard is designed for sub-surface penetration and investigation using remote instruments and unlike previous robotic architectures it offers the opportunity for multiple subsurface site analysis using three moles. The moles increase the probability that a subsurface signature of life can be found and by accomplishing subsurface analysis across a transect, the statistical rigour of Martian scientific exploration would be improved. There is no provision for returning samples to the surface for analysis by a gas-chromatograph/mass-spectrometer (GCMS) – this minimizes the complexity invoked by sophisticated robotic overheads. The primary scientific instruments to be deployed are the Raman spectrometer, infrared spectrometer and laser-induced breakdown spectroscope – the Raman spectrometer in particular is discussed. We concentrate primarily on the scientific rationale for the Vanguard mission proposal. The Vanguard mission proposal represents a logical opportunity for extending European robotic missions to Mars.

astrobiology, experimental astrobiology, Mars, robotic Mars mission
International Journal of Astrobiology
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Ellery, A, Cockell, C.S. (C. S.), Edwards, H.G.M. (H. G.M.), Dickensheets, D.L. (D. L.), & Welch, C.S. (C. S.). (2002). Vanguard – a proposed European astrobiology experiment on Mars. International Journal of Astrobiology, 1(3), 191–199. doi:10.1017/S1473550402001155