Ice Explorer Conceived for Other Worlds Gets Arctic Test NASA

Robots that melt their way through ice may one day explore below frozen surfaces of other worlds, based on a pioneering version that successfully bored into an Arctic glacier in an adventurous field test. NASA teamed with the Norwegian Polar Institute and Norwegian Space Center to use the ice-penetrating robot, or Cryobot, for the first time on a glacier on the island of Spitsbergen, far above the Arctic Circle in the Norwegian-administered international territory of Svalbad. A mission proposal called Cryoscout will compete with other Mars Scout proposals to be chosen by NASA for a 2007 launch to Mars. Cryoscout is one of 10 Mars Scout concepts selected last year for further study. It proposes using a Cryobot to descend through Mars’ polar ice cap. “If you want to learn about the climate history of Mars, which is important in the search for life, you want to examine the layers of the polar caps, and this is how you can do it,” said Scott Anderson, a geophysicist on the Cryobot field-test team.

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