NASA’s calling it the ‘Soft-Robotic Rover with Electrodynamic Power Scavenging’ – but the concept of this aquatic rover was inspired by the squid and so the catchier ‘squid rover’ has stuck. It certainly resembles this terrestrial mollusc.
The squid rover will plummet into the dark and cold depths of Europa’s sub-surface oceans, where no nuclear or solar-powered rover can hope to survive. It will ‘scavenge’ its power from its environment, using two tentacle-like appendages to electrolyse the water around it. It will then produce hydrogen and oxygen gas to provide the fuel for its propulsion systems, as well as generating electricity for both communications and alien life-seeking scientific instruments.
This technology is very much in the concept phase, but NASA is taking its development seriously. If successful, the squid rover would solve the problem of powering a craft so far away from the Sun. On top of that, it would be an effective propulsion system through the sub-surface oceans, which are suspected to lie beneath the icy surface of many outer Solar System worlds.