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Future Exploration of Enceladus Could Use Snake-Like Robot

The idea of living somewhere other than Earth is fascinating for the future. Traces of chemicals needed for life have been detected from Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. Scientists are trying to find possible ways to explore Enceladus.

Saturn is a well-known planet for its dozens of moons, and Enceladus happens to be one of the many. Since Saturn is the sixth planet away from the sun, the temperatures there are very low. Enceladus has a frozen crust and huge water plumes, essential for sustaining life on the moon. Additionally, it contains phosphorus and hydrogen cyanide, which are needed for life.

Exploring Enceladus is currently an idea NASA has evolved, but it will only happen for a while. They created the Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor, also known as EELS, which will someday be used to research Enceladus. EELS is a robot that has the features of a snake. The robot is four meters long and can move vertically inside crevasses. It can vertically move due to the cylindrical segments that can be angled and rotated. This movement can crawl into Enceladus' fEnceladus't and provide further information about alien life.

On Earth, scientists have been testing EELS' sustainability and movement. They have been testing it by making it think it is on Enceladus. So far, their main focus is EELS's crawling feature, which seems to work perfectly. They have developed a plan for when EELS is on Enceladus. The plan is for EELS to crawl beneath Enceladus' crust to find evidence supporting alien life within the vast ocean plumes. In September 2023, the robot had a field test on the Athabasca Glacier in Alberta, Canada. Scientists tested the vertical mobility inside the ice shafts. EELS was successful in holding itself and safely completing multiple descents.

After EELS was tested multiple times, scientists thought of using it on Earth's moon. The robotEarth'sot only be used to uncover more information about alien life but it will also assist stationary lunar landers. EELS will change future explorations that are in process because of its small size and vertical factor, making it an effective tool.

[Source: Science News]

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