Project Details

MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen

Goals to be achieved

The main goal of MARUM within TRIPLE-nanoAUV is to ensure proper coordination of the individual contributions from the involved institutes to allow for a seamless integration of the to be developed subsystems into a field-tested exploration system.

Tasks within the project

  • Interaction with the funding agency and the TRIPLE Advisory Board
  • Organization of meetings and workshops
  • Overseeing the overall progress of the TRIPLE-nanoAUV project
  • Facilitating the use of a Systems-Engineering Approach
  • Development of the mechanical hardware for the nanoAUV, in particular the vehicle hull, the control and actuator systems, and the propulsion
  • Contributing to the design of a reliable acoustic localization and communication system for the underwater robot

Preliminary work

Based on the experience collected in precursor projects, different hull forms and propulsion concepts will be explored. A trade-off between efficiency, longevity and the fitness for the intended purpose within its size and weight constraints has to be made. As an example, for the design approach from the ROBEX project an underwater glider based on a blended wing design is shown in figure 1. The wings ensure an economic use of the available energy.

The ROBEX Glider during its field tests from board RV Polarstern in 2017
The ROBEX Glider during its field tests from board RV Polarstern in 2017

Implementation steps

Starting out with a concurrent engineering design study the TRIPLE-nanoAUV 1 project entered its concept design and evaluation stage.
In regard to the hardware development the following tasks are in the foreground:

  • Conceptual design of the underwater robot hull (see figure 2)
  • Hydrodynamic description of the hull form
  • Design of a jet propulsion system and evaluation of the performance against a classic propeller thruster system
  • Designing and evaluating miniaturized underwater acoustic localization and communication systems
Conceptual design of the underwater robot hull
Conceptual design of the underwater robot hull

Points of Contact

Christoph Waldmann (PI), ed.muram@nnamdlaw
Sebastian Meckel (Chief Engineer), ed.muram@lekcems
Axel Pirek (IT Expert), ed.muram@keripa

Universität Bremen – Cognitive Neuroinformatics

Goals to be achieved

The Cognitive Neuroinformatics group contributes to TRIPLE-nanoAUV by developing software components for the nanoAUV, a miniaturized autonomous underwater vehicle, that enables the system to autonomously plan and execute its mission. The main objectives are to develop strategies for locating regions of interest, perform mission and motion planning to survey these areas, and while doing so, cope with potentially noisy sensor measurements and uncertain information. The main goal is to allow the nanoAUV to successfully complete its mission and to safely return to the ice shuttle.

Tasks within the project

  • Conception, design, and implementation of a subsystem for autonomous decision making that enables the nanoAUV to accomplishing its main mission as well as potential secondary objectives.
  • Identify mandatory information required as a foundation for decision making which includes a priori knowledge as well as information available during mission execution (e.g. provided by sensor fusion).
  • Explicitly model incomplete and uncertain information to be used in the decision making process.
  • Develop optimal search strategies for the given scenario, aiming for a maximization of information gain while simultaneously ensuring system safety and localization accuracy.
  • Investigate autonomously executable fallback strategies and behaviors to be executed in case of errors.
Hazard map and points of interest on the asteroid Itokawa (simulation).

Preliminary work

One research focus of the Cognitive Neuroinformatics group is the representation and handling of uncertain, incomplete, and inconsistent knowledge from a theoretically point of view as well as in multiple, practically relevant problems and applications. This includes but is not limited to localization, mapping, planning, and decision making for different autonomous systems, especially in autonomous driving and space robotics. With respect to TRIPLE-nanoAUV, the DLR projects KaNaRiA and KaNaRiA-K²I as well as Enceladus Explorer (EnEx) and EnEx-CAUSE are the most relevant ones. The KaNaRiA projects focus on autonomous navigation in the vicinity as well as on the surface of a small celestial body, which covers spacecraft and rover operations. The goal of the EnEx projects is the development of novel autonomous navigation techniques for in-ice exploration of glaciers and icy bodies of the Solar System using multiple, cooperative melting probes. This was successfully demonstrated during multiple field tests on glaciers in the Alps and Antarctica.

EnEx melting probe on the Langenferner glacier, Italian Alps.

Implementation steps

Starting out with a concurrent engineering design study, the TRIPLE-nanoAUV project entered its concept design and evaluation stage. With respect the autonomous decision making module, the focus is on the following tasks:

  • Development of a complex, autonomous decision making approach considering resource limitations. This includes limited computational power and memory as well as reduced availability of information because of miniaturized and a limited number of sensors.
  • Achievement of the required robustness for the planned mission without or only with minimal support from an operator.
  • Development of a simulation system for the overall nanoAUV mission with a reasonable tradeoff between complexity, simulation depth, and abstraction.
  • Evaluation and validation of the nanoAUV GNC system, in particular the autonomous decision making module, under varying external and internal parameters in simulation in order to improve the capabilities for the deployment in a harsh environment with partially unknown conditions.
  • Demonstration of the autonomous mission execution in an analogous environment, first with a suitable off-the-shelf AUV and later with the actual nanoAUV.

Points of Contact

Joachim Clemens, clemens@uni-bremen.de
Carsten Rachuy, rachuy@uni-bremen.de
Till Koch, tiko@uni-bremen.de

http://www.cognitive-neuroinformatics.com

RWTH Aachen University, Institute of Automatic Control (IRT)

Goals to be achieved

Goal of the Institute of Automatic Control (IRT) of RWTH Aachen University is to design a concept for state estimation, control as well as path planning of the nanoAUV. Furthermore, the IRT oversees the development of the guidance, navigation and control (GNC) module.

Tasks within the project

  • Development and real-world testing of a robust and accurate navigation filter for the nanoAUV which fuses model information as well as acoustic, inertial and pressure sensor measurements
  • Concept development for a trajectory planner focusing on collision avoidance, safety and energy-efficiency
  • Implementation of a controller for dynamic positioning capabilities and trajectory tracking
  • Managing and connecting the GNC contributions

Preliminary work

IRT develops algorithms for state estimation, trajectory planning and trajectory tracking control for autonomous ground, aerial and water vehicles. During past research projects, experience in the field of integrating algorithms on hardware for variety of practical control problems has been obtained.

Examples of autonomous vehicles with integrated guidance, navigation and control (GNC) system, developed at the Institute of Automatic Control of RWTH Aachen University.

Implementation steps

  • Concept development of GNC modules
  • Requirement analysis considering space domain specific challenges
  • Simulation-driven implementation and optimization
  • Evaluation and validation of the navigation filter concept in an application-analog environment with a prototyping breadboard model

Points of Contact

Jan-Jöran Gehrt (IRT Project Leader), j.gehrt@irt.rwth-aachen.de

Maximilian Nitsch (GNC Coordination and Navigation Filter), m.nitsch@irt.rwth-aachen.de

David Stenger (Control and Path-Planning), d.stenger@irt.rwth-aachen.de

Our Website: https://www.irt.rwth-aachen.de/cms/~iung/IRT/?lidx=1

RWTH Aachen University, Physics Institute III B

Goals to be achieved

Within TRIPLE, the group from the Physics Institute III B of the RWTH Aachen University is developing a retrievable melting probe, its sonar based forefield reconnaissance system and the ground support equipment. The melting probe needs to be able to transport the nanoAUV safely through the massive ice sheet. It needs to detect and circumnavigate obstacles during this mission. At the ice-water interface of the subglacial water reservoir the probe has to hold its position and deploy and support the nanoAUV. After the nanoAUVs exploration the probe will return to the surface.  

Tasks within the project

  • Development of the retrievable TRIPLE melting probe
  • Development of the probes navigation systems, mainly the sonar based forefield reconnaissance system
  • Development of the ground support equipment
  • Validation and demonstration of the systems in laboratory and field tests in alpine and polar glaciers

Preliminary work

Building acoustic navigation systems and melting probes has already been the task of the Physics Institute III B during projekt participations in EnEx or EnEx-RANGE. During these projects, localisation systems for melting probes up to fully autonomous melting probe networks have been built. These have been successfully demonstrated under different environmental conditions at alpine and polar glaciers.

Keine Fotobeschreibung verfügbar.
Scientists of the Physics Institute III B from the RWTH Aachen University starting a melting probe on the Langenferner glacier in the Italian Alps for a navigation demonstration during the EnEx-RANGE project.

Implementation steps

A first TRIPLE melting probe named the TRIPLE-IceCraft is currently in development in cooperation with the GSI GmbH. This probe will be demonstrated on the Ekström Ice Shelf at the station Neumayer-III in Antarctica in Jan/Feb 2022. There it will melt through the 200 m thick ice shelf into the underlying ocean and later return to the surface. This development is the basis for the final TRIPLE melting probe for greater ice depths (several kilometres) on the one hand and for extraterrestrial use on the other. TRIPLE-IceCraft will have a modular structure in order to be able to transport any scientific payload. Standardized payload segments can be integrated into TRIPLE-IceCraft. In this way, the nanoAUV will later be deployed into subglacial lakes.  

The sonar system is developed in the joint projekt TRIPLE-FRS (Forefield Reconnaissance System). It is the goal to provide a combination of sonar and radar to access the strengths of both localization principles. The Physics Institute III B contributes the sonar based subsystem. Thereto a transducer is integrated into the melting head of the probe. The functionality of an early transducer for the FRS will be tested during a field test on an alpine glacier in mid of 2021. Results from this test will enter the development of the final FRS system before its demonstration in 2023.

Points of Contact

Prof. Dr. Christopher Wiebusch
Dr. Dirk Heinen

Website of the Physics Institute III B

RWTH Aachen University, AICES

Goals to be achieved

The Aachen Institute for Advanced Study in Computational Engineering Science (AICES) of RWTH Aachen University develops data-driven and physics-based simulation methods necessary for a virtual ice exploration testbed. Depending on the task these models range from idealized performance and trajectory models to high-fidelity process models that includes the complex interplay between thermo-fluid-mechanical processes relevant for the melting robot. Our overall goal is to apply our tools for model-based strategic mission planning and decision support, which for instance requires to approximate key performance metrics (transit time, overall / average energy requirement) or to assess sensor data acquisition strategies. Performance and dynamics of a thermal melting robot are highly sensitive to the ambient cryo-environment. We therefore complement our computational models with a task-driven, functional ice data compilation referred to as the ‘Ice Data Hub’.

Tasks within the project

  • Trajectory and performance modeling for the transit of a thermal melting probe through heterogeneous ice
  • Adaptation of the CTD-ICE concept developed within EnEx-WISE

Preliminary work

Simple macroscopic trajectory models that consider the thermodynamic melting process and the convective loss of heat via the melt-water flow have been developed previously for melting through homogeneous ice. In a parallel project (EnEx WISE, AICES@RWTH Aachen), high-fidelity process models are developed including the contact regime underneath the probe as well as complex thermo-fluiddynamical phase change processes in the melting channel.

The dynamic behavior of a thermo-electric melting probe depends on the complex interplay of various thermofluidmechanical processes like con-tact phase-change at the probe’s hot point (A), (potentially) liquid-vapor phase-change (B), liquid-solid phase-change at the channel’s lateral sides (C), heat conduction into the ice (D), and convection of melt water in the channel (E).
While design optimization tasks ideally require a high-fidelity model of the ful-ly coupled process around the probe, model-based decision requires informa-tion on overall transit time and power consumption, which can already be well approximated by efficiency / trajectory modeling (including A, B and D).

Implementation steps

  • Development of an ice data management tool (Ice Data Hub).
  • Adapting the existing and new trajectory models for the scenarios considered within TRIPLE and calculation of transit times including uncertainties.

Points of Contact

Julia Kowalski, kowalski@aices.rwth-aachen.de
Marc S. Boxberg, boxberg@aices.rwth-aachen.de

DFKI RIC – Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH (Robotics Innovation Center)

The Robotics Innovation Center (RIC) belongs to the Bremen location of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI GmbH). Headed by Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Frank Kirchner, here scientists develop robot systems for over more than a decade to be used for complex tasks on land, under water, in the air, and in space.  

Particularly, the team Maritime Robotics aims to explore and develop complex autonomous and intelligent robotic systems that operate under water.  The team puts its research focus on the use of machine learning and state-of-the-art navigation for the development of complex systems that are able to defy the harsh maritime conditions. All of this leads into the central theme for the future in maritime robotics research: the manipulation and management of infrastructure and operational environments by autonomous robotic systems.   

Goals to be achieved

The main goal of DFKI RIC group within TRIPLE-nanoAUV is to work together with other partners on the conceptual design and validation of a robust and reliable localization and perception system of the nanoAUV for the safe execution of the mission, taking into considerations critical aspects such as energy requirements, miniaturization and sensor performance.  

Tasks within the project

Contribution to the localization system of the nanoAUV: 

  • Selection and integration of suitable sensors and methods for localizing the nanoAUV relative to the melting probe during exploration.  
  • Identification and integration of an AI-based motion model to support the nanoAUV’s GNC system to increase robustness and reliability despite the expected nanoAUV’s low sensory capabilities. 
  • Development of in-situ model adaptation strategies to cope with the unknown and changeable environmental conditions in subglacial lakes that have been until now unexplored by mankind. 

Contribution to the perception system of the nanoAUV:  

  • Selection and integration of suitable sensors and methods for the nanoAUV’s perception of the environment  during exploration, mainly to avoid obstacles during navigation, explore the ice as well as the seabed, and detect the docking station.
  • Conceptual design for AI-based multimodal perception, especially with regard to the harsh environmental conditions to be expected and the high degree of miniaturization required
  • Investigation of new sensory concepts that might enable a reduction in conventional sensory equipments for underwater perception.  For example, generating a depth image of the nanoAUV’s front view from raw data of the intended acoustic positioning system (USBL) using machine learning methods. 

Preliminary work

Within a large number of research and industrial projects, the DFKI RIC group has developed several robotic systems and AI technologies for undetware applications, gaining high valuable experience and know-how in underwater navigation and perception. Furthermore, the DFKI RIC group has worked in the past decade on several projects for the DLR explorer initiative: 

In the Europa-Explorer (EurEx) project (BMWi, FKZ 50 NA 1217), a possible missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa was developed and implemented as a proof of concept. Here, the autonomous underwater vehicle Leng and the docking station IceShuttle Teredo were developed as well as the technologies for autonomy and navigation required by such complex mission.

Leng docking to the IceShuttle Tredo in the saltwater basin of the Maritime Exploration Hall of the DFKI. (Photo: Annemarie Popp, DFKI GmbH)

In the following projects EurEx-SiLaNa (BMWi, FKZ 50 NA 1704) and EurEx-LUNa (BMWi, FKZ 50 NA 2002), the autonomous capabilities of the systems to reliably navigate over long periods of time were improved, as this is key to successfully execute such complex missions with limited infrastructure and instrumentation. In these Projects, a second version of the AUV Leng, the DeepLeng, was developed to reduce the size of the previous system and enable deeper mission ranges .

The two autonomous underwater vehicles Leng (back) and its successor DeepLeng (front) at the Maritime Exploration Hall at DFKI RIC in Bremen. (Photo: Philipp Kloss, DFKI GmbH)

Additionally, the miniaturized autonomous underwater vehicle AUVx was developed within the DAEDALUS project (BMWi, FKZ 50 NA 1312). The AUVx (393 x 188 x 200 mm³ ) is the third version of a series of miniaturized underwater vehicles developed in DFKI RIC, after the µAUV and µAUV². Its shape as well as equipment is specifically designed to meet the requirements of the Europa Explorer mission, developed within the EurEx projects. 

Points of Contact

Miguel Bande Firvida (DFKI Project Leader), miguel.bande_firvida@dfki.de
Bilal Wehbe (Underwater model-based navigation expert), bilal.wehbe@dfki.de
Leif Christensen (Head of the DFKI Martime Team), leif.christensen@dfki.de

Technische Universität Braunschweig

Goals to be achieved

The Institute of Flight Guidance (IFF) contributes its expertise in inertial navigation technologies to the TRIPLE enterprise, aiming to ensure robust and safe navigation of the nanoAUV under ice.

Tasks within the project

  • Specification analysis regarding the navigation sensor suit
  • Proposal of suitable sensors
  • Concept for a rugged and failure tolerant Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS)
  • Conceptual design of a surveillance system to monitor navigation solutions and  navigation critical sensors

Preliminary work (with one graph or one picture)

Engineering suitable solutions for the tasks mentioned above will be facilitated by resorting to the IFF’s vast range of experience with regard to inertial and GNSS aided navigation applications, including safety critical applications within the aviation and automotive domain. Recent examples are the C2Land project for vision augmented INS/GNSS based landings (Figure 1, left), airborne mapping and inspection of harbour crane tracks with millimetre accuracy (Figure 1, right) and high automated driving functions for the automotive industry.

Figure 1: Vision augmented INS/GNSS based aircraft landing (left) and automated surveying of crane tracks (right)

Implementation steps

  • Once all requirements regarding the navigation performance have been gathered, the overall sensor need is determined and potential sensors will be selected with respect to design, function and access constraints.
  • On the basis of the selected sensor suit a bespoken AHRS algorithms will be selected in order to provide a rugged fall-back solution within the multi-level navigation system that will be developed with multiple partners.
  • Suitable indicators will be examined and selected in order to capture degradation of navigation critical sensor data. This is the essential prerequisite to choosing the most appropriate navigation solution.
  • The eligibility of the developed algorithms and possible adjustments will be investigated within simulations and joint test undertakings.

Gesellschaft für Systementwicklung und Instrumentierung mbH

Goals to be achieved

The main goal is the concept and design of the thermal drill and onsite support equipment for the exploration of a subglacial in Antarctica and the research of viable target subglacial lakes all over the globe to enlarge the scope of exploration environments.

Tasks within the project

  • Concept development and design of a thermal drill for to transport the nanoAUV to an terrestrial subglacial lake
  • Development of a sample extractions system for liquid and filtered samples from a subglacial lake on board a thermal drill.
  • Research possible target subglacial lakes for exploration with both the nanoAUV and the thermal drill.
  • Compile of a decontamination concept for both terrestrial and extraterrestrial exploration missions
  • Concept development of combined Raman and Fluorescence spectrometer in cooperation with the University Hohenheim resulting in a system concept and a CAD model.

Preliminary work

  • Development and testing of the maneuverable thermal drill EnEx-IceMole during a prior occupation at the University of Applied Sciences FH Aachen. This included the organization and deployment the exploration of two glaciers in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in West Antarctica. Further the organization of four additional system tests on various glaciers in the Swiss Alps and Island.
  • Development of a miniaturized thermal drill to test the melting process in a vacuum chamber and sublimation conditions, Enex-nExT, during a prior occupation at the University of Applied Sciences FH Aachen.
  • Development and deployment of thermal drill and measurement system for long term ice temperature over depth monitoring in a glacier in the Italian Alps.
  • Development of a handheld light induced fluorescence spectrometer for research on cryoconite holes on glaciers.
  • Development of a UV fluorescence spectrometer to fit within the miniaturized thermal developed in the EnEx-nExT project.
Left: Laboratory set up for the UV fluorescence spectrometer to verify its measurement capabilities and compare it to similar spectrometer; Right: CAD Model of the UV fluorescence spectrometer: Dimensions 55 mm x 55 mm x 100 mm.
Drill operations at Tailor Glacier, Blood Falls 2014, Antarctica with FH Aachen. Credits: D. Heinen
Small thermal drill system up to 100 m to deploy i.e. sensor strings. Borhole diameter 60 mm.

Implementation steps

  • As a basis for the TRIPLE IceCraft thermal drill used to transport the nanoAUV to a subglacial lake, a thermal drill is currently in development with the RTWH Aachen Physics Institute III B. This thermal drill will be deployed on the Ekström ice shelf in the vicinity of the Neumayer III Station in Antarctica in Jan/Feb 2022. The knowledge and experiences will be directly used in the further development of the TRIPLE nanoAUV thermal drill.
  • A breadboard level demonstrator is in development for the sample extraction system. This allows the rabid testing of components for the different types of samples.
  • Researching and collecting subglacial lakes as a possible exploration target while taking both the science and systems test into account and the necessary logistics and time frame for an expedition.

Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

Goals to be achieved

Tasks within the project

Preliminary work (with one graph or one picture)

Implementation steps

DSI Aerospace Technologie GmbH

DSI Aerospace Technologie GmbH is an SME based in Bremen with a focus on electronics for the aerospace industry. The fields of activity are design and development of solutions for special computers, information technologies and communication systems. DSI has already established itself as a reliable supplier of aerospace equipment. Our customers are e.g. Airbus DS, OHB, DLR, ESA. In addition to national and international space missions, DSI was and is also involved in large ESA missions with deep space relevance, e.g. ExoMars, MASCOT Lander and JUICE.

Goals to be achieved

The technical goals of DSI within the TRIPLE project are mainly focused on the avionic components of the nano AUV. With DSI’s heritage and expertise in the design of space electronics, conceptual design approaches are derived in the scope of challenging requirements, e.g. the high radiation near Jupiter and in particular on Europa.

Tasks within the project

  • Conception of the AUV housekeeping
    • Selection of sensor components under the constraint of miniaturization (high integration) to support the housekeeping function
    • Identification of critical housekeeping functions
  • Conceptual design of data and energy transfer between AUV, Docking Station and Melting Probe
    • Design of the communication infrastructure of the AUV system components
    • Specification of the interfaces between the individual AUV system components
    • Identify critical paths within the communication infrastructure and design to ensure quality-of-service (QoS), including reliability, real-time capability, latency, data rates, etc.
  • Conceptual design of the OBC for the AUV
    • Hardware and software concept for the command and data handling (CDH) of the subcomponents
    • Hardware and software concept for the integration of scientific payloads
    • Identification of critical components and detection of technology gaps against the background of high computing power and the targeted miniaturization
  • Concept for miniaturization of the nanoAUV avionic
    • Identification and selection of a suitable virtualization software for the existing hardware components and software systems
    • Conception and selection of innovative approaches of approximate computing for integration into existing hardware IP cores

Preliminary work and heritage

DSI has been developing space-based designs since 1997. Our hardware has gathered flight heritage for more than 45 failure-free years in orbit. The skills and experience of the DSI team cover the full spectrum of engineering and product assurance knowledge required to successfully develop, manufacture, verify and deliver hardware, firmware and accompanying software for air- and space-borne applications, as well as their ground-based support equipment. Our heritage is based on several successful projects like KOMPSAT II, SAR-Lupe, SatcomBW, TET, PROBA V, EuroHawk, GökTürk, EnMAP, Galileo, ExoMars, SARah, EDRS, MetOp-SG, JUICE, Biomass , FLEX, KOMPSAT-7, PLATO & EOIRSat.

Recent projects at DSI related to TRIPLE

Implementation steps

The implementation steps and integration into the TRIPLE nano-AUV project is illustrated in the following sketch:

Points of Contact

Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Institute of Microwaves and Photonics (LHFT)

Goals to be achieved

To ensure the success of the TRIPLE mission, it is mandatory to avoid obstacles in the melting probe trajectory and to detect the ice-water boundary at the bottom of the icy crust. The Institute of Microwaves and Photonics contributes to the TRIPLE-project line by developing a forefield reconnaissance system (FRS) for the melting probe based on a radar/sonar combination within the TRIPLE-FRS subproject.

Tasks within the project

• Project lead of the TRIPLE-FRS project
• Conception, design and implementation of a radar system for the melting probe
• Integration of the radar system into the melting probe

Preliminary work

The development of radio-frequency electronics and radar systems as well as signal processing is one of the core competencies of the Institute of Microwaves and Photonics (LHFT). In the DLR funded project EnEx-AsGAr, radar systems for subglacial imaging have already been a major research topic. The usability of radar technology for the desired task within TRIPLE could be demonstrated as for example a water filled crevasse in the Mittelbergferner glacier in the Austrian Alps could be detected using an FMCW radar.

Crevasse detection on the Mittelbergferner in the Austrian Alps during the EnEx-AsGAr fieldtest 02/2019

Implementation steps

• Development of a radar system based on sequential sampling technique and noise correlation
• Evaluation of the radar system in terms of performance and robustness
• Integration of the radar system into the TRIPLE-FRS melting probe
• Demonstration of the forefield reconnaissance system in a terrestrial analogue scenario in the Alps

Points of Contact

Michael Stelzig

Niklas Haberberger

Website of the Institute of Microwaves and Photonics (LHFT)

Bergische Universität Wuppertal

Goals to be achieved

The University of Wuppertal works within the TRIPLE-FRS project on the design of a forefield reconnaissance system for the melting probe. The main task of the University of Wuppertal thereby is, to design and build an in situ probe that measures the permittivity of the ice surrounding the melting probe. These measurements will allow to account for respective refraction effects of the radio waves in ice. The data will additionally provide information on the ice properties, which can be used for scientific studies.

Tasks within the project

  • Simulation of near field permittivity effects 
  • Design of permittivity probe
  • Implementation of permittivity probe
  • Tests of permittivity probe in glacial ice
  • Production and measurement of different ices in lab
  • Model of ice layers on Europa 

Preliminary work (with one graph or one picture)

The University of Wuppertal already worked on different approaches of navigation in ice, and tested them within several field tests on alpine glaciers.  A system to measure the permittivity of ice via far field measurements was also already designed and additionally a method for near field permittivity measurements was tested. Based on those experiences, the in situ near field permittivity sensor will be developed. 

Substantial work was also done on simulations and models of Enceladus as an example for an icy moon of the outer Solar System (s. fig below). 

Illustration of geyser deposits and different ice layers on Enceladus South Polar Region.

Implementation steps

  • Electromagnetical modulation of measurement environment
  • Conceptional design of the permittivity probe
  • Development of the measurement concept setup 
  • Integration of the permittivity sensor
  • Tests and measurements with the device

Points of contact

Fabian Becker, fabian.becker@uni-wuppertal.de

Pia Friend, friend@uni-wuppertal.de