The study of a distant moon usually means moving around its uniquely inhospitable surface, but on icy ocean moons like Enceladus of Saturn, it may be better to find things below. This rig, which will soon be tested in Antarctica, may one day roll along the underside of an ice-crust thick in the ocean of a strange world.
It is believed that these ocean moons may be the most likely signs of past or present life. But researching them is not an easy task.
Very little is known about these moons and the missions we have planned are many for exploring the surface, not for entering their deepest secrets. But if we ever find out what's going on underneath the miles of ice (water or other), we will need something that can survive and move down there.
The large Ice Exploration pod, or BRUIE, is a robotic exploration platform being developed at the Pasadena Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It looks a bit like an industrial power hoverboard (remember?), And as you can guess by its name, it circles around the ice with its head down, making it navigable enough to give its wheels traction.
"We" found that life often lives on interfaces, both at the seabed and at the ice-water interface at the top. Most submersible men have the challenge of exploring the area, as ocean currents can cause them to collapse or lose too much power to sustain energy, ”explained BRUIE's lead engineer, Andy Clech, in a JPL blog post.
Unlike ordinary submersible machines, however, this one could remain in one place and even be temporarily shut down by maintaining its position by waking up only to make measurements. This can significantly extend its service life.
The San Fernando Valley is a great analogue to many dusty, sun-baked alien environments, in fact it has nothing like an ice ocean to test. So the team leaves for Antarctica.
The project has been in development since 2012 and has been tested in Alaska (pictured above) and the Arctic. But Antarctica is the perfect place for long-term deployment testing – after all, for up to a few months at a time. Try this where the sea ice retreats a few miles from the pole.
The test of potential scientific instruments of the rover is also in order, since in a situation where we are looking for signs of life, accuracy and precision are paramount. .
The JPL technologies will be supported by the Australian Antarctica program, which is supported by the Casey station on which the mission will be based.