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SPACE: Scientists Propose Tunnelbot to Explore Europa


A group of scientists wants to send a nuclear-powered “tunnelbot” to Europa to blaze a path through the Jovian moon’s thick shell of ice and search for life.

Europa, the fourth largest of Jupiter’s 53 moons, is one of the best candidates in our solar system for hosting alien life. Researchers believe that its icy crust hides a liquid water ocean and that vents through that crust might deliver the necessary heat and chemical ingredients for life into that ocean.To peek beneath that thick veil of ice, researchers on the NASA Glenn Research COMPASS team (a group of scientists and engineers scattered around the country and tasked with solving problems for NASA) think they have come up with the tunnelbot.

On Friday (Dec. 14) at the 2018 meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the researchers presented a proposal for a “tunnelbot” that would use nuclear power to melt a path through Europa’s shell, “carrying a payload that can search for… evidence for extant/extinct life.”

By Rafi Letzer – Full Story at Live Science

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