Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

From Inner to Outer Space

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney NSW
Photo Bill Stone

Just about now an orange robot is exploring the world's deepest hydrothermal sinkhole, Cenote Zacaton in Mexico. Unlike the Mars rovers it will not be directly controlled by human operators, it is designed to operate autonomously, searching for exotic underworld life. If the DEPTHX succeeds other robots will follow to explore the mysterious lakes in Antarctica, including Lake Vostok, and eventually the hidden oceans of the outer planets.

The DEPTHX is the brain child of Dr Bill Stone, one of the great explorers of our time. Dr Stone applied to be a NASA astronaut but failed as he was too independent. Instead he became the world's foremost cave diver. He has explored the world's deepest caves and developed ground breaking technology such as the Cis-Lunar rebreather which allow divers to stay underwater up to 24 hours. Unlike any currently flying astronaut he can truly claim to have stepped on terra incognita.

He has never really given up on his dream to explore space and has developed a plan to send explorers to the Moon's South Pole to look for water. NASA thought his plan far too risky but they have supported his robotic work. One day he hopes to send one of his robots to the ice covered seas of Europa.

Popular Science have an excellent article on this extraordinary man online. I urge everyone interested in exploration to read it. Also you can follow the adventures of the DEPTHX here.