When researcher Alberto Behar from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., joined an international Antarctic expedition last month on a trek to investigate a subglacial lake, he brought with him a unique instrument designed and funded by NASA to help the researchers study one of the last unexplored aquatic environments on Earth.
Called the Micro-Submersible Lake Exploration Device, the instrument was a small robotic sub about the size and shape of a baseball bat. Designed to expand the range of extreme environments accessible by humans while minimally disturbing the environment, the sub was equipped with hydrological chemical sensors and a high-resolution imaging system. The instruments and cameras characterize the geology, hydrology and chemical characteristics of the sub’s surroundings. Behar supervised a team of students from Arizona State University, Tempe, in designing, developing, testing and operating the first-of-its-kind sub. (more…)