NASA space robot tested in Antarctica

Deep space ice robot video

Video transcript

Could there be life on this icy moon 628 million kilometres from Earth?

NASA/JPL Scientist, Dr Kevin Hand, “We now have good evidence that oceans, oceans of liquid water exist beneath the icy crusts of moons of the outer solar system, these oceans are the prime places to search for life.”

NASA has built a robot to help find alien life on Jupiter’s moon, Europa.

The metre-long buoyant rover has two independent wheels.

It can float under the ice and move around taking photos and samples.

NASA Engineer, Dr Dan Berisford, “The key reason for having a wheeled rover versus a free-swimming traditional submersible, is that we are really interested in the ice-water interface. When ice freezes, it excludes all sorts of salts and minerals and impurities out of the ice. Right at the ice-water interface you get this enriched layer of chemistry and it’s very conducive to life.”

The robot has been tested in the Arctic and Alaska.

Now it’s headed to Antarctica for the first time.

NASA Engineer, Dr Andy Klesh, “There are many engineering and physics challenges that we have to overcome. How do we charge it, how do we run this thing for so long? These are all the challenges we have to work through, prior to us going out to Europa.”

Once on the moon it will need to drill through 10 kilometres of icy crust to reach the salty ocean.

NASA Engineer, Dr Andy Klesh, “As we descend down through the ice we have to leave these pucks along the way to bounce acoustically these signals all the way up to the surface. And then back to Earth, some many, many millions of kilometres away.”

It’s hoped the robot will be aboard a future NASA mission to Europa.

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