NASA’s snake-like robot could help uncover life on Saturn’s moon

May 7, 2023, 11:53 AM UTC
2 mins read
NASA's snake-like robot could help uncover life on Saturn's moon

NASA has been at the forefront of space exploration for decades, and the agency is now looking to push the boundaries even further with the development of a new snake-like robot. Known as the Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor (EELS) system, this advanced robot is designed to slither over one of Saturn’s 83 moons, Enceladus, to collect samples and help answer the age-old question of whether life exists beyond our planet.

The moon’s icy surface and the extreme conditions of Enceladus make it a challenging environment to navigate. Temperatures on the moon’s surface can reach up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, and the harsh terrain presents many obstacles to exploration.

However, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has risen to this challenge by designing a craft that can maneuver through solid and liquid formations while collecting samples. The EELS system is a 16-foot-long robot that resembles a snake and has a complex propulsion system that allows it to navigate through hostile regions.

The robot has been tested on Earth in environments similar to those found on Enceladus, such as glaciers and volcanoes. These tests have been essential in determining the robot’s capabilities and ensuring that it can survive in the extreme environment of space.

The goal of the EELS project is to reach the surface of Enceladus, where it is believed that a vast liquid ocean may lie beneath the icy surface. In 2005, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft discovered that icy particles flowed from the surface of the moon into space, creating its own ring while orbiting Saturn. This discovery gave credence to the idea that there may be life beyond Earth.

Despite the challenges, the EELS team remains optimistic about the project’s potential. The robot’s ability to survey solid or liquid landscapes makes it an ideal candidate for exploration missions in space, and the team is confident that it will be able to gather valuable data and samples from Enceladus.

While NASA has not yet set a launch date for the EELS project, the agency’s continued investment in space exploration and cutting-edge technology suggests that any mission is likely years away. However, the EELS system represents a significant step forward in our quest to understand the mysteries of the universe and whether life exists beyond our planet.

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