A low-cost approach to the exploration of Mars through a robotic technology demonstrator mission
We present a proposed robotic mission to Mars-Vanguard-for the Aurora Arrow programme which combines an extensive technology demonstrator with a high scientific return. The novel aspect of this technology demonstrator is the demonstration of "water mining" capabilities for in situ resource utilisation (ISRU) in conjunction with high-value astrobiological investigation within a low-mass lander package of 70 kg. The basic architecture comprises a small lander, a micro-rover and a number of ground-penetrating moles. This basic architecture offers the possibility of testing a wide variety of generic technologies associated with space systems and planetary exploration. The architecture provides for the demonstration of specific technologies associated with planetary surface exploration, and with the Aurora programme specifically. Technology demonstration of ISRU will be a necessary precursor to any future human mission to Mars. Furthermore, its modest mass overhead allows the re-use of the already built Mars Express bus, making it a very low-cost option.
Ellery, A, Richter, L. (Lutz), Parnell, J. (John), & Baker, A. (Adam). (2006). A low-cost approach to the exploration of Mars through a robotic technology demonstrator mission. Acta Astronautica, 59(8-11), 742–749. doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2005.07.052