The role of Raman spectroscopy as an astrobiological tool in the exploration of Mars
We describe how the exploration of the Martian environment would be considerably enhanced through the use of Raman spectroscopy. Furthermore, Raman spectroscopy is particularly suited for both mineralogical analysis of Martian rock and soil and for the detection of fossilised biota from former Martian microorganisms. We outline astrobiologically relevant features of the Martian environment and issues related to the detection of biotic residues. We further discuss the possibility of the emergence of photosynthetic bacteria on early Mars which may have left fossil evidence. We describe how Raman spectroscopy may be deployed for both astrobiological and mineralogical investigation, particularly in search of pigmented biomolecules, and describe the requirements for a spaceflight-qualified version of a Raman spectrometer for deployment on Mars.