The ExoLance concept is a penetrator probe that would fly to Mars as a secondary payload on a future Mars lander mission. A Mars lander would carry a set of ExoLance penetrators, each weighing a few kilograms. The penetrators would separate as the lander spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere, passively falling to the Martian surface. The penetrators would make use of technology originally developed for "bunker buster" munitions, which are designed to burrow under the surface before exploding. In this case, the explosive payload would be replaced by a scientific one, specifically, a metabolic test that would attempt to detect chemical reactions created by any active microorganisms living one to two meters below the surface. The rear end of the penetrator would remain on the surface, connected to the buried probe by a cable, to provide a communications link to orbiting satellites. Having multiple probes allows for individual probe failures without losing the entire mission. The goal is to create something that is both small enough and affordable enough to be able to be put on several planned flights.
Although Mars soils are likely not to be overtly toxic to terrestrial microorganisms, life on the surface of Mars is extremely unlikely because it is bathed in radiation and it is completely frozen.  Therefore, the best potential locations for discovering life on Mars may be at subsurface environments that have not been studied yet.
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- ExoLance Team (2014).
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- Dartnell, Lewis R.; Storrie-Lombardi, Michael C.; Muller, Jan-Peter; Griffiths, Andrew. D.; Coates, Andrew J.; Ward, John M. (March 7–11, 2011). "Implications of cosmic radiation on the Martian surface for microbial survival and detection of fluorescent biosignatures" (PDF). 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. The Woodlands, Texas: Lunar and Planetary Institute.
- "Scientists find evidence Mars subsurface could hold life". Digital Journal – Science. January 21, 2013. "There can be no life on the surface of Mars because it is bathed in radiation and it's completely frozen. However, life in the subsurface would be protected from that. - Prof. Parnell."
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- Meeting presentation of ExoLance (YouTube video) 16 min.