ENDURANCE (Environmentally Non-Disturbing Under-ice Robotic Antarctic Explorer) is an autonomous underwater vehicle designed to map in three dimensions the geochemistry and biology of underwater terrains in Antarctica.[1] The vehicle was built and designed by Stone Aerospace, and is the second incarnation of the DEPTHX vehicle, which was significantly reconfigured for the challenges particular to the Antarctic environment.[2]

The principal investigator for the ENDURANCE project was Earth and environmental scientist Peter Doran of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Bill Stone, CEO of Stone Aerospace, was a co-investigator, along with John Priscu of Montana State University, and Chris McKay of NASA Ames Research Center. The project was funded by the NASA ASTEP program as well as by the National Science Foundation's United States Antarctic Program.[3]

The name of ENDURANCE is a backronym in tribute to Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic exploration ship Endurance.

Lake Bonney

The vehicle completed two field seasons in Lake Bonney in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica in 2008 and 2009.[4]


NASA hopes to build upon lessons learned during testing for exploring objects in the Solar System known to harbor sizable bodies of water, such as Jupiter's moon Europa.[1] The future exploration of its internal ocean and search for life are compelling scientific endeavors.[5][6] The legacy on ENDURANCE is being applied now to SPINDLE cryobot.

See also


  1. Probing Antarctica’s Lake Bonney. Space.com. Henry Bortman. 21 May 2009.
  2. Visionary Counting on Unmanned Vehicles Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Unmanned Systems Magazine. Richard Tuttle. Nov/Dec 2007. Retrieved from stoneaerospace.com on 12 Apr 2012.
  3. ENDURANCE: Antarctica 2009 Mission Begins Archived 14 September 2012 at Archive.today. Stone Aerospace. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  4. Exploring Beneath Antarctic Ice. Astrobiology Magazine. Henry Bortman. 8 April 2010.
  5. David, Leonard (7 February 2006). "Europa Mission: Lost In NASA Budget". Space.com.
  6. Friedman, Louis (14 December 2005). "Projects: Europa Mission Campaign; Campaign Update: 2007 Budget Proposal". The Planetary Society. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011.
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