NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) announced in December 2019 that it will test the Antarctic Ocean with a self-propelled robot ` ` BRUIE ‘ ‘ for exploring the sea under ice . BRUIE can operate in the sea for months and is expected to play an active role in the exploration of extraterrestrial life in the future.
Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus is covered with thick ice, with water below it. It is surely seen that. BRUIE is a robot that investigates the oxygen concentration, salinity, pressure, and temperature of the extraterrestrial deep sea, which is deep under ice and difficult to investigate.
The following image is BRUIE. BRUIE, which is about 1 meter in size, is designed to float on the water, and it moves on the back of thick ice covering the sea with two wheels. If it is a submarine type explorer deep in the sea, it may be broken by the ocean current and break or go missing, but because BRUIE moves between the sea and ice, it will be washed away by the ocean current There is little worry.
Kevin Hand, chief scientist at the BRUIE project, said, “The ice crust covering Europa and Enceladus functions as a“ window ”of the sea, which may help feed life in the sea. In order to explore the life that may exist in Europa and Enceladus, it is necessary to sneak under the thick ice alone to investigate. “
The BRUIE test was conducted in 2015 on a lake in Alaska. You can see how it moves under thick ice in the following movie. BRUIE can run behind the ice and illuminate the ocean with lights to measure data and find out where methane eruptions occur with two HD cameras.
JPL evaluates the Earth’s Antarctic Ocean covered with thick ice like Europa and Enceladus as “ the ideal test site for BRUIE ” and plans to test BRUIE in the Antarctic Ocean from December 2019 Announced. According to the research team, BRUIE can be turned off automatically and safely even in water, and is designed to operate only when you want to investigate. Also, it will operate for several months under ice and can be remotely controlled by radio.
However, BRUIE engineer Dan Belisford said, “BRUIE can only detect things similar to life on Earth. Therefore, it may be difficult to recognize life forms that are completely different from the Earth. “
According to JPL, NASA has a plan to launch Europa Clipper , the Europa exploration ship, in 2025, and BRUIE is expected to be part of this plan.