Once through the ice, the device, called a cryobot, would launch a miniature submarine from its belly into the ocean.
The plan is ambitious, but scientists and engineers at the company have already created a prototype of the cryobot and are in the early phases of building the underwater vehicle.
The cryobot, a tube about as long as a compact car, holds wires coiled within a sleek aluminum frame and five jets arranged in a domed head.
But the power source worked, and last October the team used it to send the cryobot through a 2-meter-tall block of ice.
At the company's large warehouse-style workshop, half a dozen people gathered around the cryobot. A nearby desk held computer monitors displaying the bot's temperature readings, and team members watched closely to make sure the machine didn't overheat.
Light flowed through the fiber to the cryobot and then, Siegel says, "Lo and behold, it actually started to descend."
Kris Zacny, an engineer at Honeybee Robotics in Pasadena, Calif., says drilling is an easier way to go--and it won't require as much power as the cryobot.
An especially interesting chapter deals with planetary balloons, aircraft, submarines, and cryobots
. After studying part 1, readers should have a basic comprehension of the complexities surrounding the design of interplanetary probes and landers.