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Science: Space
Expulsion Probe   (+5)  [vote for, against]

Land a probe on Enceladus or Europa. Melt through the 3k of ice using nuclear powered heating rig. Swim around autonomously taking pictures of alien fish and samples of alien water.

Now here's the clever part. Instead of trying to transmit the data back to the surface through the ice, engage the overhead heater and tunnel a new hole back up to the surface, helped by the positive pressure of the sub ice ocean. When the ice is totally breached the probe will be expelled into space of the back of a huge geyser, where it can either transmit it's data or head home.
-- simonj, May 17 2010

geyser diagram http://msnbcmedia4....celadus_geysers.gif
[simonj, May 17 2010]

geyser photo http://apod.nasa.go...386_enceladus_r.jpg
[simonj, May 17 2010]

Black Monolith http://en.wikipedia...ith_(Space_Odyssey)
Large, yet perfectly formed. [8th of 7, May 17 2010]

I do think it's an interesting idea. However, if you have to melt your way back out, there's a good chance the hole will freeze shut behind you, robbing you of the rushing waters you need to power your liftoff.

But if you snoop about, you might be able to find an active geyser (probably by sound) and just use your heater in case you find any narrow spots in the exit path.
-- lurch, May 17 2010

That's pretty awesome, I hope there are fish there. And we could use the geyser energy to run our cities.
-- daseva, May 17 2010

I wasn't trying to sound very confident. Like, if someone says they think there will be someone you haven't seen in a while at the party, you say 'That's pretty awesome, I hope there are fish there' ... that kind of thing, quest, you might not understand..

Anyways, I did google "Enceladus life" and found some good evidence.
-- daseva, May 17 2010

fish or no fish, the problem of getting the results back to Earth is identical. why must you bring up trivialities?
-- simonj, May 17 2010

If we do find fish, I think we'd need to build lots of "research" vessels to go and do reasearch on all the fish. You have to test every individual fish, you see, just be be sure they all taste just as good.
-- Custardguts, May 17 2010

//fish to be found on enceladus and europa. What are you basing that supposition on?// I don't know about the other one, but Europa is supposed to be a great contender for extra-terrestial life - it having water in abundance, and while it doesn't get much in the way of energy from the sun, it does get more than its fair share in the form of dynamic tidal forces from its parent planet to a) keep the water liquid beneath the icy outer-layer, b) provide an energy source for lifeforms to exploit.

The type of life you would expect to find on a water-world would certainly be aquatic (!) - actual fish might be a supposition too far. But who knows - if there's been enough time for the speed of movement to become a trait suppored by selection pressure, there might be stiffer bodied creatures that set up a localised waves to generate thrust - fins and tails are probably complementary to that type of motion so they'd probably be included as part of the package - the same way those features evolved independently in earth fish - and in fully aquatic mammals like the dolphin or whale and in other part-time wet mammals like walruses, otters and sea-people.

So yes, assuming life and a few billion years of selection to move beyond jelly-like blobs, you may expect to find fish - or rather, fish-like creatures.

Then again, despite the abundance of liquid water on Europa - it may be that there's little else in terms of chemical building blocks - maybe it's all ice and water - who know's what's under that myserious smooth surface?
-- zen_tom, May 17 2010

Why not just leave a transponder on the surface and trail a tether down the bore? Then when the autonomous vehicle detaches, it can find its way back to the terminal point by following a sonar ping. You could leave the nuclear generator there and your submersible could return periodically to recharge and upload.
-- 8th of 7, May 17 2010

/When the ice is totally breached the probe will be expelled into space/

- would this not happen on the way in as well? If not, because you posit that the ice will freeze behind it as it tunnels, would this not also prevent the blast into space part on the way out?
-- bungston, May 17 2010

If the probe blasts its way in with explosives, or sends an icebuster down from orbit, it would probably find fish in that locale less frisky and easier to photograph.
-- bungston, May 17 2010

Can radiation from the host planet provide any energy whatsoever? Those seem somewhat largish.
-- daseva, May 17 2010

Yes, but you need an awful lot of Black Monoliths.

-- 8th of 7, May 17 2010

How about first we try to catch some of that geyser stuff and see if it contains any micro organisms. Then we can decide to do this.
-- zeno, May 17 2010

// micro organisms //

<Dave Bowman>

"My God ! It's full of ... bugs !

</Dave Bowman>
-- 8th of 7, May 17 2010

[21Q]//If you thought there were too many fish here already//
I predict we'll discover croissants on Enceladus.
-- mouseposture, May 17 2010

//How about first we try to catch some of that geyser stuff and see if it contains any micro organisms. Then we can decide to do this.//

Oddly enough, ESA were discussing this option at a meeting recently. Actually, hold on - is Enceladus the one that spews out hyrocarbon geysers? Or am I thinking of another one?
-- MaxwellBuchanan, May 17 2010

// am I thinking of another one? //

Yes. That's Sol 3, but only if you poke holes in the crust.

Which would be extremely foolish, so no truly sentient life form would do it.
-- 8th of 7, May 17 2010

//I predict we'll discover croissants on Enceladus.//

But how would the fish make them?
-- kaz, May 18 2010

random, halfbakery