DEPTHX to Europa by 2019

070228_depthx_hmed_12p.standard.jpgAt the beginning of March, DSN reported on DEPTHX.

The picture is of DEPTHX. It weighs about 1.2 tons, shaped like a mushroom, and can navigate itself into your bedroom. Just kidding. Not really. It can swim through a water-filled cavern creating its own map. It has already explored La Pilita, a 115 meter sink. So be weary not to let your house fill up with water.

This week, DEPTHX explores the 1,000ft deep Zacaton Lake in Mexico, the world’s deepest sinkhole. The goal is to both comprehensively 3-D map the Zacaton but collect water samples as well. However exciting this may be, the plan for this AUV (unmanned, untethered, Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) is to explore the deep sea under the crust of frozen ice on Jupiter’s moon Europa by 2019.  Daily mission updates can be found at DEPTHX website.

Dr. M (1720 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

3 comments on “DEPTHX to Europa by 2019
  1. Great stuff.A few questions. How thick is the crust; how much does it vary? Will a separate vehicle be necessary to punch a hole in the crust for safe entry? Will a more sophisticated AUV be available (same size and weight) by launch-time?

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