To outer space and the deep ocean, add “beneath the ice” to the list of rarely charted frontiers of science exploration. There have been very few expeditions where robots dived beneath polar ice shelves to characterize and measure them. UC Davis engineering professor Alexander Forrest recently returned from one of them.
Forrest led a six-member robotics team in Antarctica on the Western Ross Sea and Terra Nova Bay as part of an international expedition, LIONESS, led by the Korea Polar Research Institute. That stands for Land-Ice/Ocean Network Exploration with Semiautonomous Systems.
The team spent nearly two months in January and February aboard the South Korean icebreaker R/V Araon.
Their mission? Deploy two robots, or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) — one to dive beneath the sea ice to map the bottom of the Nansen ice shelf, from which two Manhattan-sized icebergs broke last year.
Read more: Beneath the Ice in Antarctica