A low-cost approach to the exploration of mars through a robotic technology demonstrator mission

Alex Ellery*, Lutz Richter, John Parnell, Adam Baker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


We present a proposed robotic mission to Mars Vanguard - For the Aurora Arrow programme which combines an extensive technology demonstrator with a high scientific return. The novel aspect of this technology demonstrator is the demonstration of "water mining" capabilities for in-situ resource utilisation in conjunction with high-value astrobiological investigation within a low mass lander package of 70 kg. The basic architecture comprises a small lander, a micro-rover and a number of ground-penetrating moles. This basic architecture offers the possibility of testing a wide variety of generic technologies associated with space systems and planetary exploration. The architecture provides for the demonstration of specific technologies associated with planetary surface exploration, and with the Aurora programme specifically. Technology demonstration of in-situ resource utilisation will be a necessary precursor to any future human mission to Mars. Furthermore, its modest mass overhead allows the reuse of the already built Mars Express bus, making it a very low cost option.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP
Issue number542
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2003
EventProceedings of the 5th IAA International Conference on Low-Cost Planetary Missions - Noordwijk, Netherlands
Duration: 24 Sept 200326 Sept 2003


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