Navigation in Extreme Environments - Exploration of Jupiter's Moon Europa with Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Marc Hildebrandt, Marius Wirtz

In: Luft- und Raumfahrt - Antrieb zu neuen Horizonten. Deutscher Luft- und Raumfahrtkongress (DLRK-2014) September 16-18 Augsburg Germany DGLR Bonn 2014.


Navigation is a key requirement for autonomous extraterrestrial missions. In the extreme envoroment on Jupiter's moon Europa this task is complicated by water, unknown environmental conditions, long distances and low accessibility for reference points. The Europa-Explorer project, funded by the German Ministery of Economics aims to research possible scenarios for such an exploration mission with the focus on the needs of navigation. The initial concept includes a drill to penetrate the ice-shield of the moon. The drill has an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) as well as stationary navigation sensors as payload. The payload is deployed after penetration of the ice-shield, and the AUV can begin its exploration. Navigation relies sonar as well as vision sensors in conjuction with internal vehicle sensors. This work describes the navgation system in development of the Europa-Explorer project and the future work which is being planned for evaluation of the validity of the developed concepts.


German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz