Test & Measurement
New Micro-Submersible Instrument Explores Buried Antarctic Lake
Researcher Alberto Behar of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory describes a recent international Antarctic expedition to investigate subglacial Lake Whillans - located more than 2,000 feet below sea level - and the unique instrument that he brought with him. Called the Micro-Submersible Lake Exploration Device, the instrument is 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. The sub transmits real-time high-resolution imagery, salinity, temperature, and depth measurements to the surface via fiber-optic cables.