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Watch this: prototype NASA robot prowls the underside of frozen lakes, oceans

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It's a rough life for a space robot. It's cold, dark, and there is no promise of a return trip back to Earth. There are also far-off moons like Jupiter's Europa, which are believed to have vast oceans underneath immense layers of ice, and that need exploring. How exactly to navigate those oceans with a remote-controlled robot may be the next step in understanding their makeup, which is just what scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are hoping for with a robot called Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration, or BRUIE. The device, which has been chronicled by National Geographic, stays afloat to give its metal tires a grip on the underside of any ice while its onboard sensors take measurements and send that information back to Earth. A very early version of what could actually end up in space is currently being tested underneath Alaskan lake ice, which is only a foot thick but that scientists say could be similar to what they'll find on Europa.