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The Mars Underground Mole (MUM): A Subsurface Penetration Device with Infrared Reflectance and Raman Spectroscopic Sensing CapabilitySearching for evidence of life on Mars will probably require access to the subsurface. The Martian surface is bathed in ultraviolet radiation which decomposes organic compounds, destroying possible evidence for life. Also, experiments performed by the Viking Landers imply the presence of several strongly oxidizing compounds at the Martian surface that may also play a role in destroying organic compounds near the surface. While liquid water is unstable on the Martian surface, and ice is unstable at the surface at low latitudes, recent results from the Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray Spectrometer experiment indicate that water ice is widely distributed near the surface under a thin cover of dry soil. Organic compounds created by an ancient Martian biosphere might be preserved in such ice-rich layers. Furthermore, accessing the subsurface provides a way to identify unique stratigraphy such as small-scale layering associated with lacustrine sediments. Subsurface access might also provide new insights into the Mars climate record that may be preserved in the Polar Layered Deposits. Recognizing the importance of accessing the subsurface of Mars to the future scientific exploration of the planet, the Mars Surveyor 2007 Science Definition Team called for drilling beneath the surface soils. Subsurface measurements are also cited as high priority in by MEPAG. Recognizing the importance of accessing the Martian subsurface to search for life, the European Space Agency has incorporated a small automated burrowing device called a subsurface penetrometer or Mole onto the Beagle 2 lander planned for 2003 launch. This device, called the Planetary Underground Tool (PLUTO), is a pointed slender cylinder 2 cm wide and 28 cm long equipped with a small sampling device at the pointed end that collects samples and brings them to the surface for analysis. Drawing on the PLUTO design, we are developing a larger Mole carrying sensors for identifying mineralogy, organic compounds, and water.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Conference Paper
Stoker, C. R.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Richter, L.
(Deutsche Forschungsanstalt fuer Luft- und Raumfahrt Cologne, Germany)
Smith, W. H.
(MEDECO Co. Clayton, MO, United States)
Lemke, L. G.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Hammer, P.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Dalton, J. B.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Glass, B.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Zent, A.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIV
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Funding Number(s)
OTHER: 896-30-00
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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