Robotic submarine on Antarctic test before icy Jupiter ocean probeDecember 15th, 2007 - 5:37 pm ICT by admin
London, December 15 (ANI): Scientists are developing a robotic submarine to explore the oceans thought to lie beneath the icy crust on Jupiter’s moon Europa.
The submarine, named Endurance, will be tested for its efficacy in an Antarctic lake next year. A previous version of the vessel has already mapped the balmier waters of a Mexican sinkhole.
It was revealed during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California, that the submarine would survey Antarctica’s West Lake Bonney in October 2008 and again in 2009.
Capped by a perennial layer of ice about 4 metres thick, the four-kilometre-wide lake is 40 metres deep. The crust has kept the lake’s waters pristine and virtually unexplored.
In order to facilitate Endurances entry beneath the ice surface, hot water drills will be used to bore a hole.
Once beneath the ice, the vessel would gather information for a three-dimensional map of the lake, and the submerged face of its adjacent glacier. It will also sample the -50 degree Celsius waters for signs of life.
Upon release, Endurance will navigate on its own for up to eight hours at a time. It will be an important test because sending radio commands to the distant, icy moon from Earth will take about half an hour.
“Europa’s far enough away where you’re not going to be able to drive it like a video game. The robot would need a fair amount of its own intelligence to make its own decisions. With Endurance, we’re at that point,” New Scientist quoted lead investigator Peter Doran of the University of Illinois in Chicago, as saying.
He revealed that Endurance would follow a pre-programmed path just beneath the ice.
“This is so we don’t disturb the environment we’re studying with the robot’s propellers,” Doran said.
He said that the vessel would help measure water temperature, salinity, turbidity, dissolved organic carbon, and scan for chlorophyll. Together, such measurements should be enough to detect the presence of life, he added.
However, scientists still have some issues to resolve before Endurance may be exploited to explore otherworldly seas. The vessel is said to be too massive to be sent on interplanetary travel.
Scientists may have to establish a docking station in or around the ice to relay data to Earth because radio waves travel poorly through water, but no one has even begun working on such a transmitter. (ANI)
- Five places where life may exist in solar system - Mar 02, 2012
- Water found on Jupiter moon - Nov 17, 2011
- Jupiter's moon Europa has a shallow lake - Nov 17, 2011
- Experts may reach bottom of Antarctic lake in 2014 - Feb 09, 2012
- New ice-melting probe could help penetrate frozen environs on Earth, Mars - May 02, 2011
- 'Goldilocks' zone of life in space far bigger than originally thought - Dec 31, 2009
- Giant ocean found on Saturn's moon - Jun 30, 2012
- Oxygen atmosphere found on Saturn's moon - Nov 26, 2010
- Ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa may harbor 3 million tons of fish - Nov 18, 2009
- Saturn's largest moon Titan has surprisingly slushy insides - Mar 12, 2010
- Strong currents accelerate Antarctic ice melt - Jun 27, 2011
- Sinkhole In Guatemala Swallows Buildings, Cause Unknown - Jun 02, 2010
- Saturnian moon may have fizzy ocean capable of harbouring life - Jan 29, 2011
- Titan shaped by weather, not ice volcanoes - Apr 10, 2011
- Saturn's rings formed by destruction of Titan-sized moon - Oct 06, 2010
Tags: american geophysical union, antarctic lake, degree celsius, eight hours, endurance, half an hour, lake bonney, measure water temperature, mexican sinkhole, moon europa, new scientist, organic carbon, peter doran, previous version, propellers, radio commands, robotic submarine, san francisco california, signs of life, university of illinois in chicago