Science 2 min read

NASA Announces Nuclear-Powered Tunnelbot to Explore Jupiter's Europa

NASA just announced their future plans to create a nuclear-powered tunnelbot to melt and then bore through the thick ice of Europa, one of Jupiter's moons.

Europa's stunning surface as seen from this reprocessed color view taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft | NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Cal-Tech

Europa's stunning surface as seen from this reprocessed color view taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft | NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Cal-Tech

NASA scientists just proposed the idea of using a nuclear-powered tunnelbot to explore the seas of the icy moon Europa.

According to reports, NASA just proposed sending a nuclear-powered tunnelbot to Europa. The bot would explore not just its surface but its vast ocean believed to contain alien life. NASA proposed the idea during an American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington, D.C as a part of a solution to penetrate the thick icy surface covering the moon.

“Estimates of the thickness of the ice shell range between 2 and 30 kilometers (1.2 and 18.6 miles), and is a major barrier any lander will have to overcome in order to access areas we think have a chance of holding biosignatures representative of life on Europa,” Andrew Dombard, an associate professor of Earth and Environmental Science from the University of Illinois in Chicago, said.

Both Dombard and his spouse, D’Arcy Meyer-Dombard, are part of NASA’s Glenn Research COMPASS team. This is a group of multidisciplinary scientists and engineers working on designing new technologies for future space exploration.

The Nuclear-Powered Tunnelbot to Explore Europa

According to a concept study conducted by Dombard and his team, a nuclear-powered tunnelbot could penetrate through Europa’s ice shell. This would enable it to reach the ocean underground. Aside from that, the bot could also evaluate the habitability of the moon’s ice shelf.

Dombard said that they performed the concept study assuming that the bot actually reached Jupiter’s fourth smallest Galilean moon.

If the idea comes to fruition, the bot would conduct a series of experiments to look for extraterrestrial life. This would include gathering samples from Europa’s ice shelf, liquid ocean, and the undersides of the ice shell itself.

Aside from the nuclear-powered tunnelbot, the researchers are also designing a bot that would be powered by General Purpose Heat Source bricks. While the two designs will make use of different approaches, both could be used to melt the ice shelf.

At the moment the tunnelbot is still a concept design awaiting NASA’s approval.

Do you believe that Europa’s ocean harbors alien life?

First AI Web Content Optimization Platform Just for Writers

Found this article interesting?

Let Rechelle Ann Fuertes know how much you appreciate this article by clicking the heart icon and by sharing this article on social media.


Profile Image

Rechelle Ann Fuertes

Rechelle is an SEO content producer, technical writer, researcher, social media manager, and visual artist. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with family and friends.

Comments (0)
Most Recent most recent
You
36
share Scroll to top

Link Copied Successfully

Sign in

Sign in to access your personalized homepage, follow authors and topics you love, and clap for stories that matter to you.

Sign in with Google Sign in with Facebook

By using our site you agree to our privacy policy.