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The miniature autonomous submersible explorer (MASE) was designed as a vehicle for astrobiology science by Behar et al. . This paper focuses on the MASE concept and extrapolates a future design based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), multifunctional microsystems (MMS), and three-dimensional multichip modules (3-D-MCM). Miniaturization of the electronics increases the payload volumes and power capabilities significantly and this is the main rationale for pursuing extreme miniaturization. The original MASE vehicle accommodated 1-2 instruments while the MEMS enhanced miniature autonomous submersible explorer (MEMSEMASE) accommodates up to six instruments. It is shown that the occupied area of the electronics components is reduced eight times, and the volume 25 times. The vehicle is shaped as a tube with 5 cm in diameter and 20 cm in length and can support 8 W continuously over 5 h. The maximum range is 25 km while the typical onboard instrumentation is conductivity, temperature, depth (CTD), and a high resolution camera. An optical fiber is used for bidirectional communication with the vessel. The goal of this enriched concept is to present an extremely miniaturized submersible design. The vehicle volume is defined to fit inside host vehicles with the goal of future deployment on Europa, oceans on Earth, and bore holes. The paper will focus on showing how electronics can be densely packed into micromachined silicon modules and how these can be designed and interconnected theoretically.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2005