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A Proposal for a New Mission to Mars:
The Biological Oxidant and Life Detection (BOLD) Mission
Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Joop M. Houtkooper, Michael Knoblauch, Roberto Furfaro, Wolfgang Fink, James N. Head,Alberto G. Fairén, Hojatollah Vali, Mike Daly, David Deamer, Holger Schmidt, Aaron R. Hawkins, Henry J. Sun, Darlene S.S. Lim, James Dohm, Louis N. Irwin, Alfonso Davila, and Dale Andersen
The next step in the exploration of Mars should be a mission with a strong life detection component. We propose a mission called BOLD: Biological Oxidant and Life Detection mission. The scientific objectives of the BOLD mission are (1) to identify the unknown oxidant in the Martian soil, which was postulated after the Viking mission, and (2) to probe whether there is extant life near the Martian surface. In contrast to the Viking mission, which was geared toward finding abundant heterotrophic life on Mars with a global distribution, the BOLD mission is aimed at a more comprehensive search including lithoautrophic and photosynthetic microbes, and a variety of biomarkers. The envisioned instrument suite to achieve these objectives includes the Multispectral Microscopic Imager experiment, the Fluorescent Stain experiment, the Nanopore-ARROW experiment, the Chirality experiment, and the Hydrogen Peroxide experiment. The BOLD mission is designed to be less expensive than most current Mars missions as it consists only of a carrier vehicle with 6 probes attached. No orbiter is assumed. Instead the probes take advantage of existing Mars orbiters for communications relay. The number of probes is intended to provide a certain degree of mission redundancy in case some of them do not land successfully or fail. A terrain navigation system, coupled with robust propulsion, potentially permits a landing precision on the order of meters if required to meet the science objectives.