Of all the planets in the Solar System aside from our own, Mars is the best candidate for us to find alien life. No, it won’t be in the form of little green men, but rather little green microbes, surviving below the planets surface. Now an interesting IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign is looking for support for a proposed mission to find this life, called ExoLance.
The scientist and experts who are behind ExoLance believe that while missions in the past have been sent to find life on Mars, and found nothing, they have been looking in the wrong place. They believe that the most likely place to find life, is not on the planet’s irradiated and freezing surface, but rather within its soil at depths of 1-2 meters.
In order to search for life here, they are turning to military technology. Penetrating rounds (better known as bunker busters) are missiles which use their heavy weight and drop velocity in order to dig themselves meters into the ground prior to explosion. ExoLance plans to co-opt this technology, but rather than bombs, these penetrators will carry a sensor payload which will carry out tests for signs of microbial life in the subterranean environment.
The penetrators themselves will be delivered by an orbital craft containing several of the devices and will be distributed across the surface of the planet on different kinds of terrain, in order to increase their chance of success. Once they make contact with the planet’s surface, the penetrators will split into two halves, one below the surface with the sensor payload, and one above the surface with an aerial which will communicate scientific findings with the orbital craft.
The ExoLance team is asking the wider community for a $250,000 initial crowdfunded investment. This they will use to develop a prototype, proof-of-concept device which they will then test in the Mars-like environment of the Mojave desert. From there they plan to take their design to NASA, whom they hope will then recognise its potential to find life on the Red Planet.
While other crowdfunded space missions have had dubious goals (such as the massively-overhyped Mars One project), ExoLance is backed by both sound science, as well as a realistic timeframe and business model. Check it out here!
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