The depthx project: Pioneering technologies for exploration of extraterrestrial aqueous channels

Richard Greenberg, William C. Stone, George Kantor, David Wettergreen, Daniel D. Durda, E. A. Franke

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Liquid water is not unique to planet Earth, and the strategy of following the path to water may lead us to extraterrestrial life. On Jupiter's oceanic moon Europa, the most interesting aqueous environments may be within confined channels of liquid through solid strata, such as where Europa's ocean may penetrate hot springs on its floor or tidal cracks in its surface ice. Those settings may provide habitable conditions. Exploration will require development of vehicles with in situ analysis tools for probing such channels. The issues are quite different from those involved in drilling through solids or moving through wide-open submarine spaces. The Deep Phreatic Thermal Explorer (DEPTHX) project is developing such a fully autonomous underwater vehicle, with architecture for intelligent sample collection and in situ discrimination of micro-organisms. Prototypes are being tested in an unusual terrestrial analog to Europa, a site in Mexico with irregular vertical surfaces, an open water column, and potential hydrothermal vents: the 330-meter-deep (or more) Zacatón Cenoté, which contains diverse microbial mats, but remains uncharted. With advanced navigation, detector, sampling, and analysis systems, DEPTHX will be pushing the limits of autonomous robotics. The adaptability and autonomy at the heart of this project will be potentially applicable in a wide range of settings on Earth and in various other sites in the solar system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages190-200
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005
EventInternational Astronautical Federation - 56th International Astronautical Congress 2005 - Fukuoka, Japan
Duration: Oct 17 2005Oct 21 2005

Other

OtherInternational Astronautical Federation - 56th International Astronautical Congress 2005
Country/TerritoryJapan
CityFukuoka
Period10/17/0510/21/05

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Aerospace Engineering

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The depthx project: Pioneering technologies for exploration of extraterrestrial aqueous channels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this