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'McMurdo' Panorama from Spirit's 'Winter Haven'. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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Australia's involvement in space exploration 

LifeSpringsMARS will be an Australian first, advancing national capability and fostering closer ties with allied nations and regional partners.


A mission motivated by science

The principal aim of the LifeSpringsMARS mission is motivated by science, with engineering designed to suit the science needs.


A single launch from Earth

LifeSpringsMARS employs a disruptive mission architecture relative to current mission designs in being low-cost, and light and nimble, able to complete sample return with just a single launch from Earth.


Already identified sampling locations

By utilising existing geoscientific information from the Spirit rover mission, the LifeSpringsMARS mission follows geoscientific protocols of returning to sites of known geological interest and looking better and harder with newer technologies. This approach minimises mission risk brought on by the exploration of new areas that are reliant solely on remotely sensed data, and lowers costs by avoiding time-consuming exploration of new terrain because we have already identified the samples we want to collect and know precisely where they are.


Lightweight, small, low-cost rover

By recognising that any investigation for signs of life must be conducted using the best labs on Earth, the LifeSpringsMARS mission can forgo a costly, large, heavy, science-lab type rover and instead, utilise a lightweight, small, relatively inexpensive rover for sample collection, reducing overall mission costs.


Sample return in a CubeSat

By sampling only enough for the best analytical labs on Earth (approx. 10 g per sample), and applying non-destructive analyses where possible, the LifeSpringsMARS mission minimises return sample payload (approx. 120 gm total) to a single CubeSat, minimising the size and cost of an ascent rocket and sample retriever satellite.


Utilise proven existing technologies

By utilizing proven existing technologies wherever possible, LifeSpringsMARS will be able to further minimize cost and increase the probability of mission success.


Bespoke engineering components

LifeSpringsMARS will also develop bespoke engineering components – e.g., a sample rover with a sophisticated multi-tool arm for sampling several different types of materials (including hard volcanic rocks, the brittle opaline silica digitate structures, as well as soils). This development will allow for the demonstration of national capabilities by involved partners.

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