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The MIRO Rover
The MIRO rover has been produced in the frame of the "Micro-robots for Scientific Applications II" R&D Activity.
The Work has been carried out by Finnish Technical Research Center VTT (FI), Space Systems Finland SSF (FI) and Helsinki University of Technology HUT (FI) under ESA GSTP contract.

The discovery on Earth of life forms thriving in extreme environments has open the possibility that some sort of life could have possibly also evolved on Mars or Europa.

The search for possible extinct or extant life is the goal of the exobiology investigations to be undertaken during future Mars missions.

As it has been learned from the NASA Viking and Pathfinder missions, sampling of surface soil and rocks can gain only limited scientific information. In fact, possible organic signatures tend to be erased by surface processes (weathering, oxidation and exposure to UV). The only sensible Martian exobiology investigation must be performed on pristine samples that have never been exposed to the surface environment.

Two types of samples have this characteristic:
  • samples extracted from surface stones/rocks by coring at a depth of a few centimetres.
  • deep soil samples acquired vertically from a depth of more than 1 meter.

Purpose of this activity is to build a prototype of a small fully-automated Exobiology Investigation Facility (EIF) to search for extinct or extant life on Mars. The Facility shall be able to perform in-situ analysis on suitable samples.  
The MIRO rover in drilling mode
A Robotic Sample System (RSS) to be used as part of this facility will have to accommodate the following list of operational requirements:
  1. reach sampling locations in a 15m radius around a lander spacecraft
  2. drill up to 2 meters into non-homogeneous regolith of unknown hardness
  3. drill up to several centimetres into surface rocks/stones
  4. allow investigation of soil layering (sample at a certain depth, material of that specific layer)
  5. acquire pristine samples of unknown hardness and coherence
  6. preserve morphology of the sample
  7. deliver samples to analysis instruments on the lander
  8. overall mass < 12Kg

MIRO Operating Scenario
The developed RSS consisted of the following components:
  • A Mobile Drilling Platform (MDP): This is basically a small rover whose function is to house a drilling and sampling subsystem and transport it between the lander and the sample acquisition locations.
  • A Drilling and Sampling Subsystem (DSS): This is the subsystem that performs the actual sampling. Acquired samples are also stored here prior to their delivery to the Lander.
  • A Docking and Sample Delivery Port (DSDP): This is the “home base” of the MDP. DSDP is mounted on the Lander. The MDP starts its mission docked to the DSDP and this is where it returns to deliver the acquired samples.

  1. "The Micro RoSA2 Activity - Conclusion and Future Plans" Anttila, Matti; Suomela, Jussi; Saarinen, Jari, 7th ESA Workshop on Advanced Space Technologies for Robotics and Automation, 19-21 November 2002 ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Last update: 30 November 2006

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