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The search for signs of past or present life on planetary surfaces such as Mars is a high priority objective of international space agencies. At present and in the near future, the most promising means to conduct such searches employ robotic systems that operate from planetary orbits or on planetary surfaces. This paper presents a robotic system concept for mobile search and surveying on planetary surfaces. It employs an open-path absorption spectrometer with components distributed on a rover and terrain to measure biogenic gases in the near-surface atmosphere. Rover motion control algorithms are presented and demonstrated in simulation for surveying wide areas autonomously using the distributed spectrometer for in situ remote sensing.