Pratt, L. M. Allen, C. Allwood, A. Anbar, A. Atreya, S. Carr, M. Des Marais, D. Grant, J. Glavin, D. Hamilton, V. Herkenhoff, K. Hipkin, V. Lollar, B. S. McCollom, T. McEwen, A. McLennan, S. Milliken, R. Ming, D. Ori, G. G. Parnell, J. Poulet, F. and Westall, F. (Mars Mid-Range Rover Science Analysis Group)
Astrobiology 10 (2) 127-163
This report documents the work of the Mid-Range Rover Science Analysis Group (MRR-SAG), which was assigned to formulate a concept for a potential rover mission that could be launched to Mars in 2018. Based on programmatic and engineering considerations as of April 2009, our deliberations assumed that the potential mission would use the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) sky-crane landing system and include a single solar-powered rover. The mission would also have a targeting accuracy of approximately 7 km (semimajor axis landing ellipse), a mobility range of at least 10 km, and a lifetime on the martian surface of at least 1 Earth year. An additional key consideration, given recently declining budgets and cost growth issues with MSL, is that the proposed rover must have lower cost and cost risk than those of MSL—this is an essential consideration for the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG). The MRR-SAG was asked to formulate a mission concept that would address two general objectives : (1) conduct high priority in situ science and (2) make concrete steps toward the potential return of samples to Earth. The proposed means of achieving these two goals while balancing the trade-offs between them are described here in detail. We propose the name Mars Astrobiology Explorer-Cacher(MAX-C) to reflect the dual purpose of this potential 2018 rover mission.