Presented is a proposed post-Beagle 2 European Mars mission with modest mass and power requirements - Vanguard. The system will comprise of a triad of robotic support devices to translocate and deploy Raman spectrometer detectors beneath the surface of Mars and possibly a laser-induced breakdown spectrometer on the surface - it will comprise of a base station lander to support communications, a robotic micro-rover to permit three well-separated sites to be selected for exploration and three ground-penetrating moles mounted onto the rover in a vertical configuration to be deployed independently. Each mole will deploy a tether carrying fibre optic cables coupling a laser Raman spectrometer mounted onboard the rover and the side-scanning sensor head on each of the moles. The Raman spectrometer is sensitive to biomolecules and their mineral substrata and represents a promising approach to the search for evidence of former life on Mars. Vanguard represents a close collaboration between scientists and engineers at the outset to maximise the scientific return within strong engineering constraints. Vanguard is essentially conceived to be a robotic field astrobiologist. In targetting the Martian sub-surface, Vanguard represents the obvious next step in the astrobiological investigation of Mars for Europe following on directly from the Beagle 2 mission. A number of design budget options are presented.
IAF abstracts, 34th COSPAR Scientific Assembly
- Pub Date:
- January 2002