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What changes would be needed to a late model rover to enable it to function under water? What would prevent a rover from functioning under water as is?

related: https://astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/28560/how-does-gravity-effect-pressure-under-water

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  • $\begingroup$ It looks better. Some areas of concern: 1) I'm worried that addressing this without referring to a specific rover would either result in vague answers or a list question. 2) The changes to make a current rover waterproof might (probably will) turn out to still be a really broad topic, but maybe that shouldn't defeat the question in principle. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Nov 29 '18 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ I think this question needs further details. For example, does the rover need to operate specifically at the "Rock interior" level of Europa, or does it just need to satisfy something like the IPX7 standards? Either way I suspect the answer is "you need to make a whole new rover", but the specific conditions required will affect the details. $\endgroup$ – Kamil Drakari Nov 29 '18 at 18:31
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Adapting an existing rover design to work underwater would be extremely cost prohibitive and it would be cheaper, more effective, and all around a better idea to design a whole new rover with underwater capability in mind.

In a general sense, there's a couple problems that an underwater rover needs to counter:

  • Pressure: Most spacecraft and rovers function in a near vacuum environment. On Earth, even at just 10 meters of water depth there is already 1 atm of pressure

  • Communication: Water is notoriously difficult to communicate through

  • Power: Sunlight doesn't penetrate water very far even without ice above it. An alternative power source to local solar panels is needed.

  • Corrosive environment: Salt or other chemicals in the water can cause corrosion or fatigue in all sorts of materials

If you wanted to recycle a rover such as the Curiosity rover to work underwater, basically the only think you'd keep is the RTG. Everything else would need to be replaced and redesigned.

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    $\begingroup$ The point about pressure is well-taken, but take note that the relationship between depth and pressure is a function of the celestial body's gravitational force. $\endgroup$ – Roger Nov 29 '18 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Roger very good point. There's a small effect due to salinity as well, but of course that scales with the gravity of the situation as well en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dead_sea_newspaper.jpg $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 30 '18 at 0:55

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