Meet BRUIE, our best chance to find alien life in our solar system

Space Science

BRUIE — the Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration — is exploring under the ice in Antarctica, laying the groundwork for future exploration of moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn.

MYSTERY WIRE — An underwater rover took the plunge last week, dipping into waters under the ice in Antarctica in a mission that could be the future of the search for alien life within our solar system.

BRUIE — the Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration — rolls under the ice sheet in a new way. It sticks to the ice “ceiling” as it rolls along with its instruments trained on areas where life would probable be.

“We’ve found that life often lives at interfaces, both the sea bottom and the ice-water interface at the top,” lead engineer Andy Klesh said in a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory news release.

The environment may seem inhospitable, but scientists believe two moons — Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus — hold our best hope of finding life in our solar system. The oceans on those moons could be under 6 to 12 miles of ice.

Kevin Hand, JPL lead scientist on the BRUIE project, said, “The ice shells covering these distant oceans serve as a window into the oceans below, and the chemistry of the ice could help feed life within those oceans.”

The rover was previously been tested in the Arctic in 2015.

“Here on Earth, the ice covering our polar oceans serves a similar role, and our team is particularly interested in what is happening where the water meets the ice,” Hand said.

An expanded look at the program is posted on businessinsider.com: “NASA is testing an alien-hunting, upside-down underwater rover in Antarctica

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