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The Icefin Hybrid ROV/AUV Explores the McMurdo and Ross Ice Shelves – Antarctica and Southern Ocean Forum

The Icefin Hybrid ROV/AUV Explores the McMurdo and Ross Ice Shelves

August 16, 2018
16:00  -  16:20
Auditorium

Icefin is a hybrid remotely operated or autonomous underwater vehicle (ROV/AUV) that is both modular and field-portable; it is essentially a small, long-range, deep-water, under-ice robotic oceanographer. Icefin’s primary capability is characterization of sub-ice environments using sensors that gather physical, chemical, and biological oceanographic data below ice around and beneath ice shelves. Icefin is a platform by which to simultaneously explore the polar ice cover on Earth and develop the technology needed to one day explore other oceans in our solar system. Icefin successfully completed science missions in Antarctica during the 2017 Austral summers, with Antarctic field work planned in the 2018 and 2019 field seasons.
Icefin is currently fitted with ten sensors for scientific analysis of the ice-ocean system. The guidance navigation and control of Icefin allow for efficient collection of scientific data through the fusion of an advance fiber optic gyro (FOG) inertial measurement unit (IMU), compass, DVL, altimeter and pressure sensor for low-level motion control and high-level localization. Icefin also includes vehicle health sensors such as leak detectors and power remaining useful life. The vehicle is rated to 1.5 km depth, weighs 280 lb in air, is 9” and 12’ long wide in order to deploy through bore holes in ice shelves. The vehicle can be deployed horizontally, or vertically through a drill hole, and is supervised via a 3 mm diameter Kevlar-reinforced fiber optic tether with a strength-enforced termination at the vehicle and a length of 3.5 km. This tether also provides real-time communication, data retrieval, and vehicle recovery. The vehicle’s thruster design provides control for full holonomic five degrees of freedom with no protruding surfaces. This allows the vehicle to easily control pitch, yaw, heave (up and down) and sway (side-to-side). The thruster configuration provides the stabilization that is necessary to hover in the water for data and image collection missions, and eventually for sampling.
Icefin has been redeveloped under the NASA-funded RISE UP program (Ross Ice Shelf & Europa Underwater Probe, deployed through the NSF’s USAP), a three-season project to monitor basal ice conditions, ice-ocean interactions, and environmental conditions from the ice to the sea floor beneath the McMurdo and Ross Ice Shelves with technology relevant to future spacecraft exploration of Europa and other ocean worlds. In cooperation with the Antarctica New Zealand Ross Ice Shelf Programme, PI Christina Hulbe, RISE UP will deploy Icefin through a borehole on the Ross Ice Shelf to access previously unmapped regions of the sub-shelf water column. We will describe Icefin, and provide preliminary observations of the basal ice, oceanographic properties below sea ice and ice shelves, and seafloor conditions. We will highlight the results of RISE UP’s first field season October 2017-January 2018, and plans for 2018-2020. We collected data at four locations below sea ice—two that allowed us to swim Icefin beneath the McMurdo ice shelf, and one at Erebus Glacier Tongue.
Icefin is a hybrid remotely operated or autonomous underwater vehicle (ROV/AUV) that is both modular and field-portable; it is essentially a small, long-range, deep-water, under-ice robotic oceanographer. Icefin’s primary capability is characterization of sub-ice environments using sensors that gather physical, chemical, and biological oceanographic data below ice around and beneath ice shelves. Icefin is a platform by which to simultaneously explore the polar ice cover on Earth and develop the technology needed to one day explore other oceans in our solar system. Icefin successfully completed science missions in Antarctica during the 2017 Austral summers, with Antarctic field work planned in the 2018 and 2019 field seasons.
Icefin is currently fitted with ten sensors for scientific analysis of the ice-ocean system. The guidance navigation and control of Icefin allow for efficient collection of scientific data through the fusion of an advance fiber optic gyro (FOG) inertial measurement unit (IMU), compass, DVL, altimeter and pressure sensor for low-level motion control and high-level localization. Icefin also includes vehicle health sensors such as leak detectors and power remaining useful life. The vehicle is rated to 1.5 km depth, weighs 280 lb in air, is 9” and 12’ long wide in order to deploy through bore holes in ice shelves. The vehicle can be deployed horizontally, or vertically through a drill hole, and is supervised via a 3 mm diameter Kevlar-reinforced fiber optic tether with a strength-enforced termination at the vehicle and a length of 3.5 km. This tether also provides real-time communication, data retrieval, and vehicle recovery. The vehicle’s thruster design provides control for full holonomic five degrees of freedom with no protruding surfaces. This allows the vehicle to easily control pitch, yaw, heave (up and down) and sway (side-to-side). The thruster configuration provides the stabilization that is necessary to hover in the water for data and image collection missions, and eventually for sampling.
Icefin has been redeveloped under the NASA-funded RISE UP program (Ross Ice Shelf & Europa Underwater Probe, deployed through the NSF’s USAP), a three-season project to monitor basal ice conditions, ice-ocean interactions, and environmental conditions from the ice to the sea floor beneath the McMurdo and Ross Ice Shelves with technology relevant to future spacecraft exploration of Europa and other ocean worlds. In cooperation with the Antarctica New Zealand Ross Ice Shelf Programme, PI Christina Hulbe, RISE UP will deploy Icefin through a borehole on the Ross Ice Shelf to access previously unmapped regions of the sub-shelf water column. We will describe Icefin, and provide preliminary observations of the basal ice, oceanographic properties below sea ice and ice shelves, and seafloor conditions. We will highlight the results of RISE UP’s first field season October 2017-January 2018, and plans for 2018-2020. We collected data at four locations below sea ice -two that allowed us to swim Icefin beneath the McMurdo ice shelf, and one at Erebus Glacier Tongue.

Session Category :  Autonomous Observing