NASA To Deploy Nuclear-Powered ‘Tunnelbot’ To Search For Life Under Icy Shell Of Jupiter’s Moon Europa
NASA To Deploy Nuclear-Powered ‘Tunnelbot’ To Search For Life Under Icy Shell Of Jupiter’s Moon EuropaEuropa (@nasa/Twitter)

Scientists are designing a nuclear-powered 'tunnel bot' that can penetrate through the icy shell of Jupiter's moon Europa with an aim to discover microbial life or evidence of now extinct life, India Today has reported. It is believed that the sub-surface ocean of the moon could support microbial life.

NASA's Galileo spacecraft has made several flybys of Europa. These observations indicated a presence of liquid ocean beneath Europa's icy surface.

"Estimates of the thickness of the ice shell range between 2 and 30 kilometers, and is a major barrier any lander will have to overcome in order to access areas we think have a chance of holding biosignatures representative of life on Europa," said Andrew Dombard, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the US.

Dombard’s team is working on a device that could examine the life of Europa. The team worked on the design without worrying about the logistics of taking the tunnel bot to the surface of the icy moon. The device is designed to sample ice throughout the shell, as well as water at the ice-water interface, and look at the underside of the ice to search for microbial biofilms. Optical fibre cables will be used for delivering commands to the bot.

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