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The Quest for Life Beyond Earth

NASA is creating a serpent-like robot named Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor (EELS) to investigate Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, in pursuit of extraterrestrial life.

Enchanting Enceladus: Unveiling the Mysteries of Saturn's Captivating Moon
Enchanting Enceladus: Unveiling the Mysteries of Saturn’s Captivating Moon

The EELS project aims to develop a versatile mobile instrument platform to explore internal terrain structures, assess habitability, and search for signs of life in various environments. 

The scientific objective of EELS is driven by the presence of a liquid ocean beneath the icy crust of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, as observed by the Cassini spacecraft.

EELS is designed to navigate crevasse environments and access the ocean through plume vent exits on Enceladus, utilizing its snake-like, self-propelled robot architecture.

Photo Courtesy of NASA/JPL-CalTech

The adaptability of EELS opens up possibilities for exploring other destinations, such as the polar caps of Mars and crevasses in Earth’s ice sheets. 

Each segment of the EELS robot houses mechanisms for actuation, propulsion, power, and communication, incorporating innovative rotating propulsion units. 

Collaborative efforts with earth scientists aim to identify high-priority investigations on Earth that can demonstrate the capabilities of EELS in analogous environments. 

EELS has the potential to unlock new discoveries and provide insights into the search for extraterrestrial life by enabling deeper exploration into previously inaccessible areas.

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