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Antarctica as a test site prior to missions to ice satellites

Researchers who place seismic nodes across the Brunt Ice Shelf. Credits: Thomas Barningham, BAS

Scientists have deployed a network of seismographs on the Brunt Ice Shelf in the Antarctic in an experiment to test the capabilities of equipment operating on the ice moon of the solar system.


20 state-of-the-art earthquake “nodes” (the world’s smallest and lightest onshore seismometer) Ice shelf Around the Halley VI Institute at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), and one “short cycle” (SP) sensor. This is the first time any of these devices have been used in Antarctica. Antarctica is the closest analog to ice. Month Found anywhere on earth.

This exciting and innovative experiment not only lays the foundation for future space science missions, but also helps to understand the ice shelves where the BAS Halley VI Research Station is located. The team behind the study has already begun collecting useful data on seismic vibrations recorded on ice shelves. This may help further reveal the development of ice shelf cracks and the condition of the sea beneath them. This data will help us understand the changing nature of the Brunt Ice Shelf, which is essential for planning future Antarctic operations.

A similar SP sensor is currently recording data on Mars as part of the NASA InSight mission, and an additional set will be sent to the Moon as part of the NASA Farside Seismic Suite in 2024. I hope that such a seismograph will be sent someday.To Ice satellite Use Saturn’s or Jupiter’s seismological records to explore the interior of the satellite to see if there are conditions that may have evolved primitive life. This project will test the ability of seismographs to function in environments such as those first seen on these ice satellites, thereby playing an important role in the exploration of life elsewhere in the solar system.

Thomas Barningham, Science Coordinator at Halley VI Research Station, said:

“Halley is a great platform for testing autonomous instruments that may be deployed in other harsh environments on Earth, or in fact in the solar system. Locally, data is a variety of instruments. It can help complement the vast amount of data collected from. Monitor ice shelves. Such data may pave the way for more intensive ice shelf seismic campaigns in the future. there is.”

Dr. Ben Fernando, co-leader of the Oxford University project, said:

“This is a very exciting opportunity to test seismographs in one of the most extreme environments on Earth, to see how seismographs work on one of Saturn’s or Jupiter’s ice satellites. This is a valuable opportunity. “

Sue Horn, Head of Space Exploration for the British Space Agency, said:

“The UK is playing a leading role in space science and exploration, developing advanced technologies that can be implemented in the harsh conditions found in the distant world. This project uses the first designed equipment. While helping prepare for future missions to Saturn and Jupiter satellites, as Mars monitors the formation of ice cracks in the Antarctic. This is how space technology benefits on Earth. Is an excellent example of. “

The node was deployed in mid-January 2022 and the SP sensor commissioning was completed approximately two weeks later. The first Antarctic deployment is expected to last a couple of weeks ahead of the potential longer deployment next year. This project is a partnership between BAS, the British Space Agency, Oxford University and STRYDE.


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Quote: Antarctica as a test site prior to the mission to the Ice Moon (February 9, 2022) https: //phys.org/news/2022-02-antarctica-site-mission-icy-moons.html Obtained from February 9, 2022

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Antarctica as a test site prior to missions to ice satellites

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