NASA wants to send snakes into space.  They will search for life

Why is this small moon, just 505 kilometers in diameter, so interesting? Well, for many years, researchers have considered it one of the prime “candidates” – places in space – where life could theoretically exist. The US space agency wants to send robots there to search for its traces. But it is very unusual, because these structures resemble in their shape and movements similar to snakes and not to humanoids.

Robot snake crawlers have an important mission

The robotic snakes will be on board the research probe. As Interesting Engineering writes, these advanced, versatile machines, thanks to their flexible structure, can move in both solid and liquid environments, and can also penetrate deep into ice. Scientists believe that there are oceans beneath the surface of Enceladus. They will be the main target of the expedition. The snakes' task will be to enter narrow ice cracks beneath the frozen layer and collect water samples.

These narrow but long robots, called EELS (Exoplanar Life Surveyors), are being developed by engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The EELS is four meters long and consists of ten elements. The autonomous operating tool is able to move in any direction and is equipped with numerous sensors and cameras. This – as Science Robotics magazine pointed out – would help not only in the search for traces of life, but also in the search for the potential suitability of the local environment for human habitation. The robot will collect information about various hydrogeological characteristics of Enceladus and analyze the collected samples.

Saturn's moon brings hope

NASA has already conducted a series of EELS tests – both in the laboratory and in the field. The snake wriggles across, among other things, the snow-capped Big Bear Mountains in California and the frozen lake there, the Athabasca Glacier in Alberta, Canada, and the sandy areas of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Yard (the base where research on Mars rovers is conducted).

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