Under-the-Ice Prototype Rover for Europa

  • Thread starter BillTre
  • Start date
  • #1
BillTre
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,544
3,416

Summary:

NASA has tested a rover to explore the underside of the ice surface of Europa
NASA'a rover prototype floats up to the bottom of the surface ice and rolls around looking at things.
It has been tested in Alaska and the Antarctic.
Screen Shot 2020-01-07 at 4.24.43 PM.png


This NY Times article has videos of it moving around and of what it sees under the Antarctica ice.
 
  • Like
  • Informative
Likes Ibix, Klystron and anorlunda

Answers and Replies

  • #2
berkeman
Mentor
57,941
8,012
How cool is that... :smile:
 
  • #3
256bits
Gold Member
3,217
1,232
They would have to get it down there first.
How thick is the ice in/ on Europa?
Get it halfway down and the hole freezes over - poor thing.:nb)
 
  • #4
BillTre
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,544
3,416
I was wondering about that.
As I recall kilometers thick.

Here's what NASA says:
Theory and observation indicate that Europa's icy shell is around 15 to 25 kilometers (10 to 15 miles) thick, overlying an ocean approximately 60-150 kilometers (40 to 100 miles) deep. Support for this hypothesis comes from observations of pits, domes, and spots on Europa's surface. The size and spacing of the features suggests that they are due to churning within the ice shell, and theory suggests that such churning (called convection) can occur only if the shell is between greater than about 15 kilometers thick. Measurements of the height of domes on Europa (up to a kilometer or just over half a mile high) also suggest that the ice shell must be fairly thick for the domes to be so tall. Some scientists have argued that the ice shell might be thinner, only a few kilometers thick.
 
  • #5
Ibix
Science Advisor
Insights Author
6,822
5,665
How cool is that... :smile:
0 C.

But yes, I agree. A floating robot ambling around on the underside of ice is rather brilliant. What's its endurance, does anyone know?
 
  • Haha
  • Like
Likes BillTre and berkeman
  • #6
anorlunda
Staff Emeritus
Insights Author
8,701
5,592
Maybe nuclear power onboard? Certainly no solar panels down there. Is is plausible that they use nuclear power to melt its way down through the ice cap?
 
  • Like
Likes BillTre
  • #7
256bits
Gold Member
3,217
1,232
This prototype I believe is tethered, for the signals and perhaps power.
On Europa it would have to be on its own.
 
  • Like
Likes BillTre
  • #8
phyzguy
Science Advisor
4,598
1,553
This prototype I believe is tethered, for the signals and perhaps power.
On Europa it would have to be on its own.
I think it would need to be tethered to a lander on the surface. I don't think you can radio through 10 km of ice.
 
  • Like
Likes BillTre and 256bits
  • #9
BillTre
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,544
3,416
From the linked article:
A fourth, critical test kept it submerged beneath the ice for 42 hours and 30 minutes. Andy Klesh, the project’s lead engineer, drove the rover using a laptop. While the rover can be piloted via satellite connection, during this mission, Dan Berisford, a mechanical engineer, carefully fed it a thin yellow tether.
and:
To study such life, any undersea rover would need to be noninvasive.“While the thrusters of a normal underwater remote-operated vehicle can jet-blast delicate algaes off the bottom of ice sheets during close encounters, Bruie gently tiptoes beneath them,” said Daniel Arthur, a technologist who works with Caltech and the University of Western Australia.

The rover analyzes the ice-ocean interface passively and at consistent distances, drawing little power — especially relative to submarine-type drones. “Power will be in short supply on Europa,” Dr. Arthur said, “and we don’t want a propeller obliterating humanity’s first encounter with extraterrestrial life.”
Bruie = Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration
 
  • Like
Likes Ibix
  • #10
Ibix
Science Advisor
Insights Author
6,822
5,665
Thanks - I recall reading the second sentence of our first quote but missed the first... somehow. o0)
 

Related Threads on Under-the-Ice Prototype Rover for Europa

Replies
4
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
18
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
1K
Replies
4
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
16
Views
3K
Replies
10
Views
14K
Top