New rover seeks alien life 20km below ice on distant moons
Mission starts with Antarctic tests and ends by scouring the ocean depths of Jupiter and Saturn’s watery moons
Designing a rover to trundle over the arid surface of Mars is challenging enough, but building a robot to explore the ocean depths of faraway moons is altogether trickier.
Scientists believe watery satellites such as Enceladus, which orbits Saturn, or Jupiter’s moon Europa hold the best conditions for finding alien life in the solar system. While upcoming Mars missions may uncover fossils of ancient life forms dating back billions of years, living organisms could still be thriving in the seas of volcanically active moons.
Hunting for extraterrestrial life in alien oceans is fraught with problems, not least because any probe must navigate solo beneath ice sheets that could be up to 20km thick, through which no signal could penetrate. But now Nasa has developed its first aquatic rover which can drive upside down under the sea ice, and is due to begin testing in the Antarctic...