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‘Explore Mars’ Group Wants To Build Instrument Seeking Subsurface Red Planet Life

Not-for-profit group Explore Mars has a new IndieGoGo campaign that could see an instrument, ExoLance, head to the Red Planet to burrow for subsurface life. The first stage will be to raise money to build the prototype and then test it, within 12-14 months of finishing the fundraising.

No launch date for this mission has been announced, but the group says that will be determined after testing is finished and a launch provider can be found.

“Explore Mars has devised a simple system capable of being delivered to the Martian surface to detect microorganisms living on or under the surface,” the campaign page states.

“ExoLance leverages a delivery system that was originally designed for military purposes.  As each small, lightweight penetrator probe (“arrow”) impacts the surface, it leaves behind a radio transmitter at the surface to communicate with an orbiter, and then kinetically burrows to emplace a life-detection experiment one  to two meters below the surface.  ExoLance combines the experiments of the 1970s Viking landers and the Curiosity rover with bunker-busting weapons technology.”

The project aims to raise $250,000, but there will be milestone goals available all the way up to $1 million.

Artist's concept of the proposed "ExoLance" instrument that Explore Mars would have burrow beneath the Red Planet's surface for life. Credit: ExoLance/Indiegogo/YouTube (screenshot)

Artist’s concept of the proposed “ExoLance” instrument that Explore Mars would have burrow beneath the Red Planet’s surface for life. Credit: ExoLance/Indiegogo/YouTube (screenshot)



Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • FarAwayLongAgo August 2, 2014, 5:15 AM

    In the video clip in the link, it is claimed that there are ancient cave paintings of Mars’ orbit. I doubt it! Some Mars enthusiasts blur the border between hitech, scifi and UFO-mysticism.

    • Jim E August 2, 2014, 11:11 PM

      Mars is a naked-eye object and traces a rather odd path though our sky. Of course it was interesting to ancient astronomers. I don’t know if it turned up in cave paintings, but it would not be a huge surprise if it did.

  • Aqua4U August 2, 2014, 12:53 PM

    Full link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMBioKitqrg

    I’d like to see a couple dozen or even hundreds of these sent to Mars, especially to the Hellas Planetia basin.