A group of aerospace and robotics engineers wants to throw lawn darts at Mars, and they have started a fundraiser to make their dream a reality.
The team wants to find out if there is life on Mars, but needs the right equipment — a small robot that can fit on a rover and dig deep. The ExoLance could tag along with another mission to Mars, Popular Science reports, and once it enters the atmosphere a dispenser filled with darts will detach and fall to the surface at a supersonic speed, able to reach three to six feet into the Martian soil. The darts would be able to run a metabolic test to differentiate between living and non-living chemistry.
The ExoLance Indiegogo campaign needs to raise $250,000 in order to build prototypes that would be tested in the Mojave Desert. "Once the concept is sufficiently tested and we have proven the viability of the mission concept, we will approach NASA, other space agencies, and potential commercial providers to carry ExoLance on one or more future Mars missions," the team's website said.