Vanguard — a European robotic astrobiology-focussed Mars sub-surface mission proposal

We present a new European Mars mission proposal to build on the UK-led Beagle2 Mars mission and continue its astrobiology-focussed investigation of Mars. The small surface element to be delivered to the Martian surface — Vanguard — is designed to be carried by a Mars Express-type spacecraft bus to Mars and adopts a similar entry, descent and landing system as Beagle2. The surface element comprises a triad of robotic devices — a lander, a micro-rover of the Sojourner class for surface mobility, and three ground-penetrating moles mounted onto the rover for sub-surface penetration to 5 m depth. The major onboard instruments on the rover include a Raman spectrometer/imager, a laser plasma spectrometer, an infrared spectrometer—these laser instruments provide the basis for in situ “remote” sensing of the sub-surface Martian environment within a powerful scientific package. The moles carry the instruments’ sensor head array to the sub-surface. The moles are thus required to undergo a one-way trip down the boreholes without the need for recovery of moles or samples, eliminating much of the robotic complexity invoked by such operations.


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Authors: Ellery, Alex, Ball, Andrew J., Cockell, Charles, Dickensheets, David, Edwards, Howell, Kolb, Christof, Lammer, Helmut, Patel, Manish, Richter, Lutz

1 January, 2005
Acta Astronautica / 56
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