The MSLED project

Science Objectives

The goals and ambitions of this project are to develop a miniaturized, self-propelled ice-borehole, submersible vehicle that will include instruments and MEMS sensors. This vehicle will perform real-time in-situ measurements and conduct field test functions inside Subglacial Lake Engelhardt and at the grounding line of the Ross Ice Shelf, which are described below:

  • Investigate the marine-ice interface, examine the distribution of entrained debris in basal ice and observe geometry of ice-water interface

  • Measure physical (e.g. temperature, pressure) and chemical (e.g. conductivity, pH) parameters within the lake

  • Inspect the water column for suspended particles as well as possible aquatic organisms, search for visual evidence of water stratification and/or horizontal/vertical motion

  • Investigate the sea/lake floor for evidence of erosion and sedimentary processes (glacial flutings, subaqueous sediment failures, debris flows, deltas, drainage channels, etc.), record signs of possible bioturbation and/or evidence of benthic organism.

Science Requirements

The requirements to achieve a sustainable miniaturized submersible vehicle for exploration of a subglacial lake and other remote and chemically challenging aquatic environments are summarized as follows:

  • Design and build a vehicle capable of deployment in other host vehicles and operations in acidic and alkaline water to a maximum total ocean depth (11 km depth).

  • Keep the vehicle less than 8 cm in diameter and 30 cm long.

  • Be capable of moving in both the vertical and horizontal directions.

  • Be equipped with a suitable camera, depth and MEMS electrochemical (or equivalent) sensors, in addition to control and data communications.