An electronic signal travels from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, to a robotic rover clinging to the underside of foot-thick ice on an Alaskan lake. Image © Mark Thiessen/National Geographic
The rover’s spotlight begins to glow. “It worked!” exclaims John Leichty, a young JPL engineer huddled in a tent on the lake ice nearby. It may not sound like a technological tour de force, but this could be the first small step toward the exploration of a distant moon.
Above image: Astrobiologist Kevin Hand prepares to deploy a rover (shown below) beneath the ice of Alaska’s Sukok Lake. When a probe finally reaches Europa, its search for life may be modeled on trial runs like this. And with the powerful SLS rocket NASA is designing, he says, “we could potentially get to Jupiter and Europa very quickly.”
source National Geographic