Robot finds fish beneath Antarctic ice, could be used to explore Europa

January 26, 2015 8:05 AM

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Robot finds fish beneath Antarctic ice, could be used to explore Europa

When a group of scientists drilled through 2,430 feet of ice in Antarctica to get to the water underneath, they only expected to find a few microbes here and there. Instead, they discovered a thriving community of fish and crustaceans -- all thanks to a remote-controlled robot that could one day also be used to explore one of Jupiter's moon. It took the tubular robot called Deep-SCINI (Submersible Capable of under Ice Navigation and Imaging) 45 minutes just to traverse the hole made by pumping hot water through the Ross Ice Shelf. It eventually settled three feet above the very bottom, where up to 20 and 30 fish swam close to gaze at its lights.

The camera-equipped machine can operate up to a depth of 6,500 feet, but it only had to brave 33-feet-deep waters for this mission. That space is sandwiched between thousands of feet of ice and the seabed, making it such a harsh environment with very little food and no sunlight. So when the ground c...

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