NASA’s icy mission
This buoyant robot is on its first Antarctic mission.
Voice of NASA Scientist Dr Kevin Hand; “Almost there, almost there, now just drag it some place. You’re beneath the ice.”
NASA has just returned from three weeks at Casey station testing a future space robot.
NASA Scientist Dr Kevin Hand “What this vehicle does is, it floats on the underside of the ice and allows us to inspect scientifically what’s happening.”
NASA Lead Engineer Dr Andy Klesh “Including a dissolved oxygen sensor, looking at conductivity, temperature and depth and of course video images.”
NASA Scientist Dr Kevin Hand “What we saw was just stunning, the sea-ice algae dangling down like little chandeliers, the gas bubbles under the ice. We even tested the rover on a tide fracture, a crack in the ice.”
NASA Scientist Dr Kevin Hand “We learned that from navigating some of the cracks an additional wheel, to make it more like a tricycle, could be helpful. Being able to have thrusters on it, to vary our buoyancy when needed.”
Eventually the robot will explore another icy landscape on one of Jupiter’s moons.
NASA Scientist Dr Kevin Hand “Now of course the dream of dreams is that someday this vehicle is sufficiently small and low power and low weight, such that we could eventually get it into and beneath the ice of Europa, where we might someday find signs of life beyond Earth.