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EnEx, European Enceladus Explorer (initial phase)
scalbers
post May 5 2015, 12:22 AM
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I just came across this today. An "Ice Mole" test has recently been successfully performed, drilling through 16m of ice in Antarctica to water underneath.

http://www.dlr.de/dlr/presse/en/desktopdef...#/gallery/18546


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katodomo
post May 5 2015, 05:33 AM
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The DLR press release seems a bit... don't know how i should call it, "beneficial to DLR"? All that DLR is involved with in regard to this project is managing a federal R&D grant.

There are six German universities involved; FH Aachen, the one mentioned, is developing and testing an under-ice autonomous navigation payload (which, in addition to inertial navigation, seems to work with ultrasound beacons on the surface, developed by TU Braunschweig). The University of the Bundeswehr at Munich is developing a mission scenario for Enceladus. The "Ice Mole" per se is preexisting technology.

See also http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/science/conte...ler.cfm?id=4122
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scalbers
post May 5 2015, 04:58 PM
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Thanks for the additional perspective, and good to know who is working on the mission scenario.


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katodomo
post May 5 2015, 08:32 PM
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The group at the Bundeswehr university (which is part of their Institute for Space Technology) apparently offers students to do their theses as part of the project.

This summary for that purpose (in German) gives some insight into the mission design.

- landing near a geysir near south pole
- Ice Mole would be detached and begin tunneling to a depth of 500m* to water deposits (aquifers feeding the geysir)
- Ice Mole would then explore these water reservoirs for signs of life

Subcomponents being investigated for the mission:
- designing a nuclear power source (reactor or radiothermal battery)
- nuclear-electric propulsion for cruise
- instrument package for surface and subsurface exploration from orbit before landing
- autonomous landing systems
- landing unit

Student theses would support one of these subcomponents with simulations and trade-off analyses.

*- other places on their website: 100-200m.

With regard to the above, the institute has previously supported EADS Astrium with mission simulation and system analysis for BepiColombo, apparently did Jupiter radiation belt analysis for JUICE (or EJSM?) and is involved with radio science instruments on Rosetta, Mars Express and Venus Express.
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katodomo
post Dec 19 2015, 05:02 PM
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A few detail research papers and presentations for EnEx and IceMole:

Development and testing of a maneuverable subsurface probe that can navigate autonomously through deep ice
(... which i think somewhat strange to be posted on NASA's solar system exploration page - but it at least recognizes NASA's Europa effort with a one-paragraph note on why Enceladus)

IceMole: a maneuverable probe for clean in situ analysis and sampling of subsurface ice and subglacial aquatic ecosystems
(Annals of Glaciology 55(65) 2014)

DLR's "Countdown" newsletter, issue 28, April 2015 did an article on the Blood Falls expedition within EnEx. Page 6-10, in German and English. Mostly pictures.

The basic EnEx project was completed with the Blood Falls expedition and its wrapping up until spring this year. The scenario is continued with six research groups within a EnEx follow-on framework, since June 2015 (funded until 2018):

- EnEx-CAUSE (U Bremen), developing an autonomous navigation package
- EnEx-RANGE (RWTH Aachen), "robust autonomous acoustic navigation in glacial ice", further developing the ultrasound ranging
- EnEx-DiMIce (RWTH Aachen), directional melting in ice - developing the IceMole probe
- EnEx-nExT (FH Aachen), "environmental experimental testing" - Enceladus environment simulation
- EnEx-MIE (U Braunschweig), "magnetic improvement and evaluation" (?)
- EnEx-NavEn (BwU München), mission navigation for Enceladus

DiMIce had a presentation at EGU 2015 (abstract).

CAUSE has ties to DLR's similar VaMeX (Valles Marineris Exploration) rover swarm project, with the AI routines developed in both projects generalized and used in both surface and under-ice probes.

RANGE is working on an ultrasound pinger for IceMole (to detect and circumvent non-meltable structures ahead, as well as to detect e.g. liquid water deposits within ice), as well as communications between multiple melting probes using ultrasound to optimize relative positions and create a 3D network of beacons for navigation. Article in German.

nExT tests melting probes (and ice screws) in a simulated near-Enceladus environment, i.e. in a vacuum and with cryogenic ice under sublimation conditions.

NavEn Is designing an operational mission concept for transporting a probe from Earth to the surface of Enceladus; fields of study also include planetary protection concerns, autonomous landing on airless bodies and high accuracy planetary penetrators (i.e. impactors).

For MIE I can't find any information.
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