Robotic Planetary Explorer (EELS)
Enceladas Mission: Latest evidence in 2017 shows possible water plumes on Europa and confirmed plumes on Enceladus. Plumes indicate a water vapor driven model, and requires temperatures around 273 Kelvin that offer a potential habitable zone for alien life near the surface, and access to liquid within 100’s of meters up to 2 kilometers of the surface. At these shorter distances, a robot mobility architecture to explore these sites would be feasible and be of high value. The robot would need to be able to snake into tortuous channels no more than 20cm in thickness, perch, take samples, and return up to the surface for further testing and discovery of alien lifeforms.
Earth Oceans: More than eighty percent of our ocean is unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored. Deep exploration of our oceans, networks of caves and trenches in the deep ocean floor, can help explain the origins of life on Earth, to how water arrived on Earth in the first place.
EELS Snake Robot: We are building a snake-like robot for entering deep Earth Oceans and Enceledas to explore these similar, austere environments. Our focus on a new locomotion platform, new control paradigms, will hopefully enable scientists to reach new depths that they have never reached before.
This project is in direct collaboration with the Caltech-NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Robotic Vehicles and Manipulators Group).
Students and Collaborators
D.A. Schreiber*, F. Richter*, A. Bilan**, P.V. Gavrilov**, L.H. Man**, C.H. Price**, K.C. Carpenter, M.C. Yip
*/** denote equal contributions