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.

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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