2015-2016 Science Planning Summaries
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2015-2016 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Astrobiology science and technology for exploring planets (ASTEP)

Astrobiology science and technology for exploring planets (ASTEP)


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Lisa Clough

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Steve Zellerhoff / Chad Naughton

Principal Investigator

Dr. Britney Elyce Schmidt

Georgia Institute of Technology
Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
Atlanta, Georgia

Project Web Site:
http://schmidt.eas.gatech.edu/simple/ External Web Site


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: McMurdo Ice Shelf


This project, the Sub-ice Investigation of Marine and PLanetary-analog Ecosystems (SIMPLE), addresses the need to understand the extent and limitations of life in sub-ice environments. Researchers will seek to accomplish this objective by determining the distribution of any active biological communities under the McMurdo Ice Shelf as well as the fundamental ice and ocean properties that make such communities viable. SIMPLE will focus on critical observations of the Earth’s sub-shelf ecosystems and the ice processes upon which they rely as analogs for active geology and habitable zones on Jupiter's moon, Europa.

Field Season Overview

This season, the project will deploy two teams. The first team will arrive at Winfly to establish a field camp near the sea ice-ice shelf transition. The second team will arrive during mainbody. They will use a Reed drill to drill a hole in the sea ice through which they will deploy a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The ROV will explore and characterize the local under-ice environment to guarantee the safety of the Artemis Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). The AUV will travel on daily missions up to 15 km from the dive site. Operations will continue until the close of the sea ice

Deploying Team Members

  • Evan Clark
  • Peter Doran (Co-PI)
  • Chris Flesher
  • John Harman
  • Keith Huffstutler
  • Peter Kimball
  • Joshua Moor
  • Brian Pease
  • Kristof Richmond
  • Britney Schmidt (PI)
  • Vickie Siegel
  • Mark Skidmore
  • Bill Stone (Co-PI)
  • Luke Winslow