2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
2018-2019 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

RISE-UP: Ross Ice Shelf and Europa Underwater Probe

no photo available
B-041-M Research Location(s): McMurdo Sea Ice


Event Number:
NASA 15-PSTAR15_2-004

Program Manager:
Ms. Jessie Crain

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Elizabeth Kauffman / Chad Naughton

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Britney Elyce Schmidt
Georgia Institute of Technology
Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
Atlanta, Georgia

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: McMurdo Sea Ice


Researchers on the Ross Ice Shelf and Europa Underwater Probe (RISE-UP) project seek to improve understanding of the environments below ice shelves and sea ice. The science team will use the purpose-built remotely operated vehicle-autonomous underwater vehicle (ROV-AUV) "Icefin" to search for biological communities, map the ice and seafloor, and understand ocean-water structure and currents. Through improved constraint of terrestrial ice/ocean cryosphere processes, this project will enhance understanding of the evolution of other ocean-world environments in our solar system (e.g. Europa’s ice shell), which are prime targets in NASA’s search for life. This project aims to continue chasing the limits of life on Earth while developing techniques for future exploration of other planets or moons.

Field Season Overview

A research team of nine participants will reside at McMurdo Station for seven weeks and will make day and, occasionally, overnight trips by PistenBully or snowmobile to their dive sites in McMurdo Sound where they will continue refining the engineering goals of their Icefin AUV. The team will divide into two groups: the first team will scout locations, stage camp, predrill 10” holes with a Jiffy drill, and conduct profiling conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) casts. The second team will then arrive, ready to deploy the Icefin AUV. Once deployed, they will test new electronics and sensors, integrate new autonomous navigation and mission-planning software, and continue building on the heritage data set begun under the previous SIMPLE and RISE-UP projects. A helicopter reconnaissance is scheduled for October in the vicinity of Bratina Island. If sea ice conditions are not amenable to overland travel in December, helicopter support will be used for camp put-in and pull-out at the approved location.

Deploying Team Members

  • Daniel Dichek
  • Justin Lawrence
  • Matthew Meister
  • Andrew Mullen
  • Charles Ramey
  • Britney Schmidt (PI)