- Press Release
- September 25, 2023
Surviving in Ocean Worlds: Experimental Characterization of Fiber Optic Tethers across Europa-like Ice Faults
As an initial step towards in-situ exploration of the interiors of Ocean Worlds to search for life using cryobot architectures, we test how various communication tethers behave under potential Europa-like stress conditions.
By freezing two types of pretensioned insulated fiber optic cables inside ice blocks, we simulate tethers being refrozen in a probe’s wake as it traverses through an Ocean World’s ice shell. Using a cryogenic biaxial apparatus, we simulate shear motion on pre-existing faults at various velocities and temperatures.
These shear tests are used to evaluate the mechanical behavior of ice, characterize the behavior of communication tethers, and explore their limitations for deployment by a melt probe. We determine (a) the maximum shear stress tethers can sustain from an ice fault, prior to failure (viable/unviable regimes for deployment) and (b) optical tether performance for communications.
We find that these tethers are fairly robust across a range of temperature and velocity conditions expected on Europa (T(K) = 95 to 260; velocity (m/s) = 5 x 10-7 to 3 x 10-4). However, damage to the outer jackets of the tethers and stretching of inner fibers at the coldest temperatures tested both indicate a need for further tether prototype development.
Overall, these studies constrain the behavior of optical tethers for use at Ocean Worlds, improve the ability to probe thermomechanical properties of dynamic ice shells likely to be encountered by landed missions, and guide future technology development for accessing the interiors of (potentially habitable / inhabited) Ocean Worlds.
Surviving in Ocean Worlds: Experimental Characterization of Fiber Optic Tethers across Europa-like Ice Faults and Unraveling the Sliding Behavior of Ice
Vishaal Singh, Christine McCarthy, Matthew Silvia, Michael Jakuba, Kate Craft, Alyssa Rhoden, Christopher German, Ted Koczynski
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Geophysics (physics.geo-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:2211.10337 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2211.10337v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
From: Vishaal Singh
[v1] Fri, 18 Nov 2022 16:48:04 UTC (4,003 KB)