Telerobotic Mars Mission for Lava Tube Exploration and Examination of Life

by   Hanjo Schnellbaecher, et al.

The general profile and overarching goal of this proposed mission is to pioneer potentially highly beneficial (even vital) and cost-effective techniques for the future human colonization of Mars. Adopting radically new and disruptive solutions untested in the Martian context, our approach is one of high risk and high reward. The real possibility of such a solution failing has prompted us to base our mission architecture around a rover carrying a set of 6 distinct experimental payloads, each capable of operating independently on the others, thus substantially increasing the chances of the mission yielding some valuable findings. At the same time, we sought to exploit available synergies by assembling a combination of payloads that would together form a coherent experimental ecosystem, with each payload providing potential value to the others. Apart from providing such a testbed for evaluation of novel technological solutions, another aim of our proposed mission is to help generate scientific know-how enhancing our understanding of the Red Planet. To this end, our mission takes aim at the Nili-Fossae region, rich in natural resources (and carbonates in particular), past water repositories and signs of volcanic activity. With our proposed experimental payloads, we intend to explore existing lava-tubes, search for signs of past life and assess their potentially valuable geological features for future base building. We will evaluate biomatter in the form of plants and fungi as possible food and base-building materials respectively. Finally, we seek to explore a variety of novel power generation techniques using the Martian atmosphere and gravity. As detailed throughout the remainder of this chapter, this assemblage of experimental payloads, then, constitutes the backbone of our proposed telerobotic mission to Mars.


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