Not all rovers are designed to move around.surfaces of solid worlds such as Mars. The solar system is a rather interesting place, hiding several icy satellites of giant planets at once, under the thick crust of which huge oceans are hiding. In order to check whether life can arise in a fully water world, NASA is going to start exploring Europe and Enceladus with a new device designed within the walls of the space agency.
Is there life in Europe?
BRUIE - a rover that can exploresubglacial oceans of worlds far from the Sun. According to the idea of NASA experts, a unique rover will be able to move both on the icy surface of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and swim in the oceanic depths of these small celestial objects. The BRUIE rover is currently located in Antarctica at the Casey Australian Research Station. The task of scientists from Australia will be to test the development of endurance, which is very useful for the rover when immersed in a 20-km layer of ice in Europe.
Universe Today reports rover testingwill be concentrated in places where ice cover is found with liquid water. Similar areas of the separation of water and ice will be especially important when analyzing a chemical solution of the icy ocean of Europe. Due to the fact that a huge number of microorganisms live on Earth in such substances, it is likely that we can find similar forms of life in more remote places of the solar system.
See also: Europe: our chance to find another life?
According to experts involvedin developing a unique rover, the absence of a large amount of solar energy may not interfere with local life to develop and gradually evolve due to the presence of rich chemistry that fuels a hypothetical ice life. To search for traces of organic life, BRUIE will be impervious to most ocean currents, which will allow the device to maintain buoyancy in the most difficult conditions. In addition, an automated device will be able to learn to “fall asleep” when scientists need to take one or another long-term measurement while observing the subglacial environment.
Dan Berisford is a mechanical engineer working onthe project, claims that the BRUIE rover combines several scientific instruments for measuring the salinity of water, the percentage of oxygen dissolved in it, pressure force and ambient temperature. In order to be able to successfully overcome the gigantic thickness of ice on the satellites of giant planets, Australian scientists are already working on a method that could deliver BRUIE under the ice sheets of Europe and Enceladus. One of the preliminary research concepts of the ocean, located under a thick crust of ice, may be the development of a special tunneling robot that works on the synthesis of nuclear energy. The heat from nuclear energy could melt the ice, and the machine could freely pass through the hole formed in the many millions of permafrost.
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Despite the fact that we still do not knowfor sure, is there life on Europe or Enceladus, the search for humanity must surely start somewhere. Perhaps one of the first steps towards conquering the moons of Jupiter and Saturn will be the launch in the mid-2020s of the upcoming NASA Europa Clipper mission, which for the first time in human history will be able to examine Europe in detail and understand whether the small ice bodies of the solar system can still be one cradle of life within the solar system.