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Space & Astronomy

Tiny sub to search for life on Europa ?

June 12, 2013 | Comment icon 21 comments



Image Credit: NASA
A miniature submarine could one day be used to explore the depths of Europa's mysterious ocean.
[!gad]Jupiter's icy moon is widely hailed as one of the most promising places to look for life because it is home to what is believed to be a vast ocean of liquid water beneath a relatively thin shell of ice. A mission to look for life on Europa would be no easy task however, on top of the usual perils of landing on another world scientists would need to find a way to get a robotic vehicle down through the ice before any exploration could take place.

One of the most promising ideas involves the use of a tiny submarine no larger than two soda cans. Originally conceived by JPL and Sweden's Uppsala University, the sub would be light enough to be carried on a spacecraft and small enough to be able to access the depths through only a small borehole in the ice.
One of the first visitors to Jupiter's icy moon of Europa could be a tiny submarine barely larger than two soda cans. The small craft might help strike the right balance between cost and capability for a robotic mission to look for alien life in the ocean beneath Europa's icy crust.


Source: Astrobio.net | Comments (21)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #12 Posted by shrooma 9 years ago
i'm in total agreement with you both merc & waspie, that if we did manage to get to europa, it would be one of mankind's greatest (and coolest!) achievements. unfortunately, not everyone sees science the same way we do, they tend to view it as being very expensive with little or no gain, instead of seeing it as a chance to learn something, and a way of pushing against the boundary of what's possible. but that still doesn't mean we can't keep our fingers crossed eh!
Comment icon #13 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
i'm in total agreement with you both merc & waspie, that if we did manage to get to europa, it would be one of mankind's greatest (and coolest!) not everyone sees science the same way we do, they tend to view it as being very expensive with little or no gain, Whilst that is true I don't think it is the majority view. We also have to be realistic, in a time of world wide recession, and when many people are facing austerity, missions to other worlds are difficult to sell. Even in times when the world economy is booming there is only a finite budget for space exploration. When NASA (or ESA fo... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by kwin 9 years ago
The cost of a submersible the size of two soda cans - millions The support vehicle, research & travel costs - hundreds of millions Seeing the 'bait' swallowed - priceless
Comment icon #15 Posted by Merc14 9 years ago
The cost of a submersible the size of two soda cans - millions The support vehicle, research & travel costs - hundreds of millions Seeing the 'bait' swallowed - priceless So well said!! Great visual, write a movie mate!
Comment icon #16 Posted by DONTEATUS 9 years ago
We shall see I hope in my life time ! Go NASA ! GO !
Comment icon #17 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
Seeing the 'bait' swallowed - priceless If that were to happen it would justify every single cent spent. The discovery of a complex life form on another world would constitute one of (if not THE) greatest scientific discoveries in history... even if the equipment does get eaten .
Comment icon #18 Posted by Bavarian Raven 9 years ago
If that were to happen it would justify every single cent spent. The discovery of a complex life form on another world would constitute one of (if not THE) greatest scientific discoveries in history... even if the equipment does get eaten So ice fishing trip to Europa?
Comment icon #19 Posted by Merc14 9 years ago
So ice fishing trip to Europa? Yeah man, just bring about 20 kilometers of line .
Comment icon #20 Posted by Bavarian Raven 9 years ago
Nah, I've heard it's as shallow as two or three klicks. So bets on who catches the bigger fish?
Comment icon #21 Posted by Erowin 9 years ago
What if there are sentient fish-people aliens living there? Oh man I really just want aliens already, how am I going to become a space archeologist at this rate


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