Special Session

DEPTHX — The DEep Phreatic THermal eXplorer: Robotic exploration and characterization of Sistema Zacatón on the mission path to Europa

Monday, 29 Oct., 4-6 p.m.
Colorado Convention Center, Room 403
DEPTHX night sampling
DEPTHX and the Mission 1 team, from left to right: Marcus Gary, William Stone, Tom Lyons, Ian Meinzen, John Kerr, Nathaniel Fairfield, Dominic Jonak, David Wettergreen (kneeling), George Kantor, and Victoria Siegel. Click on photos for larger images.

[ view abstracts for this session ]

The autonomous underwater deep phreatic thermal explorer (DEPTHX) is wrapping up its current robotic exploration of Sistema Zacatón, a massive system of deep, water-filled caves (or cenotes). According to the University of Texas at Austin Geology Department Web site, Zacatón itself is the deepest water-filled sinkhole in the world. DEPTHX both maps the geometry of the caves and searches for microbial life.

This two-hour special session presents results of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-funded DEPTHX project to develop and test a similar autonomous robotic underwater vehicle to search for life in the seas of Jupiter's frozen moon, Europa.

This session's seven presentations by teams of project scientists and engineers will cover engineering design, robotic mapping, scientific sensors, hydrogeologic applications, geomicrobial discoveries, future Antarctic exploration, and planetary ties to Europa.

Session chair:

Marcus O. Gary, The University of Texas at Austin


Richard Greenburg, The University of Arizona-Tucson
William C. Stone, Stone Aerospace/PSC Inc.
Nathaniel Fairfield, Dominic Jonak, George Kantor, David Wettergreen, Carnegie Mellon University
Ernest Franke, Michael Rigney, Carl Allsup, Ian Meinzen, Tom Lyons, Southwest Research Institute
John M. Sharp, The University of Texas at Austin
Juan Alonso Ramírez Fernandez, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leon
Jason W. Sahl, John R. Spear, Colorado School of Mines
Peter Doran, University of Illinois at Chicago

For more information, see www.geo.utexas.edu/zacaton/DEPTHX/.

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