Within the Enceladus Explorer Initiative of the DLR Space Administration navigation technologies for future space mission are in development. Those technologies are the basis for the search of extraterrestrial life on the Saturn moon Enceladus. An autonomous melting probe, the EnEx-Probe, aims to extract a liquid sample from the ocean below the icy crust.
A first EnEx-Probe was developed and demonstrated in a terrestrial scenario. At the Bloodfalls, Taylor Glacier, Antarctica a clean subglacial liquid sample was extracted in November 2014. To enable navigation in glacier ice two acoustic systems were integrated into the probe in addition to conventional navigation technologies. The first acoustic system determines the position of the probe during the run based on propagation times of acoustic signals from emitters at reference positions at the glacier surface to receivers in the probe. The second system provides information about the forefield of the probe. It is based on sonographic principles with phased array technology integrated in the probe’s melting head. Information about obstacles or sampling regions in the probe’s forefield can be acquired. The development of both systems is now continued in the project EnEx-RANGE. The emitters of the localization system are replaced by a network of intelligent acoustic enabled melting probes. These localize each other by means of acoustic signals and create the reference system for the EnEx-Probe.
This presentation includes the intelligent acoustic network, the acoustic navigation systems of the EnEx-Probe and results of terrestrial tests.