This Nuclear Robot Could Tunnel for Alien Life on Europa


Right now, you’re looking at a rendering
of a nuclear-powered tunneling robot designed to find life on Europa. Look at that big ol’ alaskan bull worm! At the American Geophysical Union’s conference
in December 2018, scientists gathered from around the world to present their concepts
for future space missions. There were dragonfly inspired drones for Titan,
probes designed to take the temperature of Io’s volcanoes, but perhaps the coolest
of them all, was a tunneling worm robot designed to bore through Europa’s icy shell! The bot was designed by NASA’s COMPASS team,
a group of engineers tasked with ideating system designs for space exploration missions. And Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, is a prime
target because, well, there might be life there. For years, scientists have suspected Europa
has an iron core, a rocky mantle, and a global ocean of liquid water. And, in 2013, the Hubble Space Telescope observed
possible evidence of plumes of water on Europa’s surface, suggesting it’s geologically active. Scientists even think there could be hydrothermal
vents on its seafloor supporting all kinds of alien life! So obviously we want to go there and take
a swim. But the oceans lie beneath an estimated 15-25
kilometers of ice, which makes exploring them a challenge. That’s where the tunneling robot comes in. About 5 meters in length, the robot is covered
with hotplates that would melt the ice during its descent into the deep unknown. Onboard, the bot would carry all sorts of
instruments and equipment allowing it to take samples as it goes. It would also have cables or a flotation device
to keep it from sinking once it reaches Europa’s ocean, so it can just hang there, stickin’
its nose into the alien bikini bottom. All the data gathered would then be transmitted
via fiber optic cables back to a lander at the surface. Oh yeah, and the whole thing is either powered
by General Purpose Heat Source bricks containing plutonium, or an onboard nuclear reactor. Rad. General Purpose Heat Source modules rely on
the radioactive decay of plutonium, and they’ve been used frequently in NASA missions. But the U.S. hasn’t launched a nuclear fission
reactor since 1965. For the last few years though, they’ve been
revisiting fission with their Kilopower project, an effort to find affordable nuclear fission
systems that could provide the increased power needed for space travel. Kilopower systems are already being tested,
so it’s possible a future iteration could be used for the nuclear worm bot. Which brings us to the question, what’s
the timeline for this project? When will the big worm get to fly? Well, NASA’s Europa Clipper mission is slated
for sometime in the 2020s. But as of now, that mission only includes
an orbiter, and for the tunneling worm to be used, there would need to be lander. NASA has hinted at a possible Europa lander
mission, but there’s nothing concrete yet. That being said, the probe was commissioned
by NASA, so there’s clearly interest in the feasibility of a design like this. And with the tantalizing possibility of finding
life on Europa, it’s probably only a matter of time before we try to peek under its shell. But in the meantime- I guess we can hope a
Hollywood director has seen these sketches and is gonna make a kick-ass sci-fi movie
about tunneling alien robots?? Yeah, I would definitely
watch that. Want more videos about insane space mission
designs from the COMPASS Team? Let us know in the comments! As always, thanks for watching, and I’ll
see you next time on Seeker.

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100 thoughts on “This Nuclear Robot Could Tunnel for Alien Life on Europa

  1. Dunno, was anyone thinking about the consequences for the potential life that maybe is living under that ice all these years?
    Was anyone thinking about how this could either intoxicate their habitat? What about the possibility that just because our intervention that life could be eradicated?
    Nobody cares.
    I somehow wish for some other "intelligent" life form to come here and do the same to mankind.

  2. Why are they announcing this, when they aren't intending to reveal the real data and telling us straight what they found?
    Just a bunch of BS I think

  3. Very likely such a probe would introduce terrestrial bacteria as well as any exhaust, plus what happens later when age exposes the batteries and such to the ocean of Europa. We might kill anything there just looking for it

  4. So let me get this straight – it's a giant tampon designed to burrow into a crack while dangling on a string so it can take onboard liquid.

    Its tempting to make jokes but I'm being deadly serious when I ask, was it designed by a woman?

  5. Just great, now I gotta wear an extra layer of foil coz they got robot nuke worms . Fucking nuke worms mannn.
    You ever seen a nuke worm…on weeeed?
    Foh

  6. How do we know we haven’t been traveling through the solar system for millions of years restarting at each planet after we mess it up and this is where the great flood happened

  7. It's a great plan. The main thing is making sure the robot is entirely sterilized of Earth microbes in case Europa is actually supporting a biosphere. If it turns out to be a sterile world, then subsequent probes won't matter concerning sterilization.

  8. It'd better send drones out to dive – unless they want to make sure NOT to find life there.
    Like, what will it do, send sonar and even if there's something like a whale claim its 'natural phenomenon' and then just run crude chemical tests and use anything to say its 'inconclusive' life might be found, but not even have a simple microscope to see if there's plankton…?

    IMO the rich elite want us NOT to find Alien Life – maybe Elon Musk the exception. One man's opinion but they've been sucking the money that should have gone to NASA and a lot of other stuff (like keeping bridges from collapsing and killing people) and could end NASA with some lobbying so NASA has to be as strict and conservative as they like.

    After the cold war started to die down the taxes we paid for the Apollo missions were diverted to tax breaks for the elite, even as they were able to escape tariffs (not to mention prosecution for Fraud) moving jobs overseas and demanding subsidies when the bribes the Generalissimo demanded far exceeded the savings of enslaved children working in deadly factories. If life was found outside earth there'd be overwhelming reaction demanding space research and China would go in more excess to get there first so the money would have to be diverted and it would cost their tax breaks so they can have their next mansion or yacht.

  9. Isn't it presumptuous to assume the ice crust is entirely made of ice? What if the device hits a giant meteor or a lava flow that is miles below the surface?

  10. Imagine a being on Europa and then this Huge-Nuclear-powered-Pe#is starts drilling into your home. This could be interpreted as Interstellar harassment

  11. Lol, watch this. It'll pop a hole in the ice of Europa. Explosive decompression will blow out the water and ice and we'll learn about life on other planets through the cosmic equivalent of a BP oil spill.

  12. Breaking News !!!!!!

    Humanity still trying to figure out is there’s life on other planets 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

    Humans are slow , not knowing that we are just having a human experience…….
    Somewhere alone the line …. WE all ET’s

  13. How about focusing on advancing our robotics so that we can eventually create one that won't melt down and break from the radiation coming off of the damaged fukashima nuclear reactors that are currently pumping the pacific ocean with two olympic sized swimming pools of radioactive ocean water since 2011 EVERYDAY putting cancer causing isotopes that are almost unstudied at these tremendous levels into our ecosystem, that should be one of the biggest concerns on earth right now! it's causing a domino affect in ALL marine species, most noticeably at the moment are the starfish which have almost entirely disappeared in the west coast and the chinook salmon which are on the brink of an extinction which affects animals that feed on them like sea lions which are all emaciated in the wild currently, all of which started in 2011 the moment those reactors doomed the pacific ocean to a slow boiling death. seeker and NatGeo seem to notice everything other than that in the futile efforts to improve the health and conservation of our ocean.

  14. GPHSes are just a specific version of radioisotope heater units (RHUs), which have already been used to keep electronics from freezing on several previous space probe missions, like the Cassini–Huygens spacecraft sent to Saturn.

  15. The rocks on the Jovian moons seabeds appear to be unbroken according to the latest scientific analysis; not a good indicator of geothermal activity.

  16. Why do you Americans call Europe Europe but Europa Europa? It both comes from the same greek myth. In every other language, their is no difference. Someone explain.

  17. Nuclear robot with heat? This is a cover up attempt to send nuke testing to other places. It's gonna be Hiroshima & Nagasaki 2.0 for the aliens once we're finished over there.

  18. And do they really believe they will find "life" on Europa?
    Jesus! I can't believe how silly these retardientist are! 😀
    I mean, they are getting money for their stupid toys. That's great for them, well done kids!
    But, why is this chick so exited ??? WTF is wrong with her ?????

  19. This is by far the most interesting project outside of earth!
    Stop every other project now and invest everything into this one! I'm 25 now and i want to see a foto taken in that ocean!

  20. Watch this on mute and it looks like a Tampax advert where a female astronaut is able to complete her mission to Europa thanks to the advanced features of her tampon.

  21. For a start, just fly through a geyser and analyze what's collected.
    No reason for dumping radioactive there.
    Especially if there really is life.

  22. One problem everyone forgets is even if we could go 10 meters a day at 10km itd take almost 3.5yrs to reach the water and its estimated that the ice on europas between 25 and 40 km thick .and 10 meters is a hella lot of ice to melt per day , even nuclear cores would have a hard time keeping warm after a few months ,nuclear reaction does not automaticly mean hot it just means neutrons are flowing .its possible to have radioactive as hell plutonium only 70° f look inside any cooling pond at a nuclear reactor facilty .those rods are kept at 100° f and eupropas a huge ass ice ball itd take a billion year to melt with a million lbs of plutonium

  23. We need to seriously talk to Verizon and those fiber data companies. They really know how to lay cable across oceans across tectonic plates and volcanoes and still functions for decades. They will give us estimates of how feather thin the cable can be made for space missions and still last for many days once it is deployed to Europa. This is not science/theories. This is just daily reality of engineers of those phone companies. Engineers need to prevail, or we are all doomed in USA shooting each other every day until no one is left.

  24. Thanks for the video! Questions: 1) What's to keep the ice tunnel from refreezing or collapsing – thus breaking the data cable connection? 2) If the ice tunnel doesn't freeze, what's to keep the water pressure from popping that probe out like a cork? Thanks again. 𝓡𝓲𝓴𝓴𝓲 𝓣𝓲𝓴𝓴𝓲.

  25. I'm politely outraged by the fact that a freaking photosynthesising microbe was used to portray possible life on Europa!

  26. We were explicitly warned to stay away from Europa by Dave/SpaceChild according to his "All these worlds are yours except Europa…" speech!

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