Toward extraplanetary under-ice exploration: Robotic steps in the arctic

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This paper describes the design and use of two new autonomous underwater vehicles, Jaguar and Puma, which were deployed in the summer of 2007 at sites at 85°N latitude in the ice-covered Arctic Ocean to search for hydrothermal vents. These robots are the first to be deployed and recovered through ice to the deep ocean (>3,500 m) for scientific research. We examine the mechanical design, software architecture, navigation considerations, sensor suite, and issues with deployment and recovery in the ice based on the missions they carried out. Successful recoveries of vehicles deployed under the ice require two-way acoustic communication, flexible navigation strategies, redundant localization hardware, and software that can cope with several different kinds of failure. The ability to direct an autonomous underwater vehicle via the low-bandwidth and intermittently functional acoustic channel is of particular importance. On the basis of our experiences, we also discuss the applicability of the technology and operational approaches of this expedition to the exploration of Jupiter's ice-covered moon Europa. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Journal of Field Robotics