Robofish - To Europa!
What would be the perfect craft to explore the depths of Europa's oceans, which are buried under up to ten kilometers of ice? According to Cornell University's Steve Squyres:
"This is one of the hardest missions you can imagine," Squyres said. "You need a power system that will enable you to get onto the surface. You then have to some way find your way down through what might be 10 kilometers of ice. And then you have to release some kind of free-swimming vehicle that is able to go down to the bottom of that ocean and find out what's down there."
Answer: robofish! Robotic vehicles that can swim down to the bottom and explore the features that planetary geologists believe are there.
(Diagram of Europa)
Here on Earth, all life needs to gain a foothold is liquid water and an energy source. Europa likely boasts both, with hydrothermal vents gushing from the seafloor as they do on our planet, researchers say. And Earth's deep-sea vent systems host vibrant ecosystems.
"You do the calculations for Europa, and what you find is that there ought to be hydrothermal activity; there ought to be volcanic activity at Europa's seafloor," said Squyres, who recently chaired the U.S. National Research Council's Planetary Science Decadal Survey, which lays out the scientific community's goals for planetary science over the next 10 years.
Science fiction fans have been ready for this for a decade; sf author Michael Swanwick described the Mitsubish robot turbot robofish:
Black liquid flashed past the turbotís infrared eyes. Straight away from the shore it swam, seeing nothing but flecks of paraffin, ice, and other suspended particulates as they loomed up before it and were swept away in the violence of its wake. A hundred meters out, it bounced a pulse of radar off the sea floor, then dove, seeking the depths...
Unfortunately, the Jupiter Europa Orbiter mission is unlikely to be approved; at 4.7 billion dollars, its a bit too rich for NASA's $1.2 billion planetary science budget.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/28/2012)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.
Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1936.
Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.' - Jack Williamson, 1933.
Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...' - James Blish, 1957.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'
SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound. It is cute, though.
RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!
MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...'
Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...
MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!
UberAIR Asks For Skytaxi Landing Prototypes
You know you want to ride in one.
Boring Tunnel Almost Ready
Your underground future is calling!
Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.
Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.'
Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing
Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.
Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.
Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.
Squid-Like Robots Soon To Be 3D Printable
'It was a chemotactic artificial jellyfish designed to slither...'
Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories