The US space agency NASA has begun testing an alien-hunting underwater rover in Antarctica. Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent and is the largest desert in the world in terms of area. It is spread over an area of 14,000,000 sq km. It is also the site of the South Pole where no humans live permanently because of unfavorable conditions. The ice-covered landmass is, however, home to several plants and animals that survive in extremely cold conditions. Scientists have dropped an upside-down underwater rover into the icy waters. The Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration will search for life beneath thick ice. The rover is a part of the space agency’s upcoming program to explore secrets oceans on Europa and Enceladus. While Europa is one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter, Enceladus is the sixth-largest moon of Saturn.
Both the Europa and Enceladus are icy moons. They are believed to have liquid water oceans under thick crusts of ice. Scientists claim that the two natural satellites could be the most promising locations other than the Earth in the solar system to host life. The latest findings have made them high-priority subjects for scientists to explore further. According to NASA, it will launch the next spacecraft to Europa in 2025. Scientists said the rover can dive deep into the Antarctica waters and explore its depths which are yet hidden. BRUIE will also measure parameters that are essential for the presence of life. The rover has been tasked to measure factors like water salinity, pressure, dissolved oxygen and temperature among others.
The rover is developed by engineers at NASA-JPL. It has already been tested in Alaska and the Arctic in 2015. It uses buoyancy to remain afloat and is impervious to currents. It can automatically power down and turn on when needed. This will help BRUIE to spend months underwater. BRUIE will carry several instruments on Europa and Enceladus and look for ingredients capable of supporting life there.