NASA folks get to work on the best projects!
NASA and many of us have been pondering a mission to Europa, which has an ice covered ocean. Who knows what might be under the ice? So when and if we send a probe there, we’re going to need to get through the ice and see what is down there—and it could be a whole ocean, possibly even a living ecosystem.
For this reason, attention has turned to underwater robots, and, this year an under-ice rover. This rover is actually useful for arctic science too, since diving under ice is difficult and dangerous. Robust rovers could let us get a lot more data about polar seas.
As the video shows, the concept is pleasingly simple: the robot is buoyant, so it naturally presses up against the bottom of the ice. Two wheels let it drive any which way, and the simple axel body gives flexible lighting and sensing. Cool!