A new rover is able cruise underneath heavy sheets of ice. That will allow the successor of the prototype to explore oceans that are hard to access on our home planet and there is also the potential for it to probe extraterrestrial waters.
NASA is testing a new rover capable of cruising underneath thick sheets of ice on our home planet with the hope that future prototype’s will explore our hard to access oceans. The long term potential is to explore extraterrestrial waters.
Staffers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are responsible for creating the underwater device, called the Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration, or BRUIE. The BRUIE was recently put to the test in Barrow, Alaska.
There, scientists drilled through the ice and inserted the rover into the freezing waters below. Experts at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory controlled the rover remotely while it maneuvered under the ice sheet.
NASA astrobiologist Kevin Hand remarked “We think this truly was the first time ever that an underwater, under-ice, untethered vehicle has been operated through satellite link.”
The satellite aspect is an important one because at first scientists weren’t quite sure if it would work. The process involves an electronic signal that had to travel from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena to the to the BRUIE which was under an ice layer about a foot thick.
In the end, the rover with all its advancements proved to be successful. The goal is to one day send a future prototype to Jupiter's moon, Europa, which is believed to have a liquid ocean underneath its frozen surface.