NASA 1998 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 98-1 25.01-9300

PROJECT TITLE: A Submersible Remotely Operated Vehicle System for Exploration of Large Subglacial Bodies of Water

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

The motivation to explore Jupiter's moon Europa is to search for life in its ocean thought to be found beneath 10 to 100 km of ice. In developing missions to Europa, it is recognized that a test bed for technology development will be necessary here on earth. A large subglacial lake, such as Lake Vostok at the Russian station at Vostok in Antarctica, would serve this purpose. Exploration of Lake Vostok also would be of great scientific interest because it has been isolated from the earth's ecosystem by its ice cover for 10 to 30 million years. This project is to develop and test concepts for an underwater vehicle, or "Hydrobot", for in situ exploration of Lake Vostok, and its interface with a melting probe that delivers the vehicle to its underwater site, the "Cryobot", keeping in mind that this vehicle system should also serve as a prototype for the Europa underwater probe. Key objectives for the vehicle are to minimize risk of contamination, to collect and analyze samples from the ice/water interface, the bottom sediment, and the water itself, and to return video images and sample data to the surface for further analysis.

POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

The development of a compact instrumented submersible robotic system that can be inserted into areas of difficult access and with built-in redundancy to function reliably in hostile environments has wide commercial application for internal inspections of fluid-filled tanks (drinking water towers, underground reservoirs, fuel containers, ship ballast tanks, nuclear reactor vessels, etc.), pipe and tunnel networks, and underground caverns such as those used to store crude oil and natural gas. Polar research and speleology can be safely conducted where access may be too restricted or too hazardous for divers.

NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Philip J. Ballou
Deep Ocean Engineering, Inc.
1431 Doolittle Drive
San Leandro , CA 94577-2225

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR

Deep Ocean Engineering, Inc.
1431 Doolittle Drive
San Leandro , CA 94577-2225