Astrobiological instrumentation for Mars – the only way is down
In this paper, in this edition of the Journal commemorating the life and work of David Wynn-Williams, we consider approaches to the astrobiological investigation of Mars. We provide a brief account of the scientific rationale behind the approach presented here. In particular, we outline the capabilities of the Raman spectrometer for the detection of biomarkers. David Wynn-Williams was an active champion of this instrument who was keen to field-qualify a version in Antarctica with a view to flying a Raman instrument onboard a Mars-bound space mission. We examine a scenario for the deployment of such an instrument in conjunction with other instrumentation and argue that subsurface deployment of scientific instruments is essential if we are to succeed in detecting any evidence that may exist for former life on Mars. We outline a mission scenario – Vanguard – which represents a novel but low-risk, low-cost approach to Mars exploration that was conceived and developed jointly by one of the authors (Ellery) and the late David Wynn-Williams.
Authors: Ellery, A., Kolb, C., Lammer, H., Parnell, J., Edwards, H., Richter, L., Patel, M., Romstedt, J., Dickensheets, D., Steele, A., Cockell, C.