WATSON's Field Test in Greenland
During 2019 field tests near Greenland's Summit Station, a high-elevation remote observing station, the WATSON (Wireline Analysis Tool for the Subsurface Observation of Northern ice sheets) instrument is put through its paces to seek out signs of life, or biosignatures, 360 feet (110 meters) down a borehole. In this photograph, the winch that holds the drill pokes out the top of the drill tent.
WATSON could one day be launched aboard a robotic mission to seek out biosignatures on the ocean moons of Enceladus, Europa, or even Titan. The WATSON team hopes to test the instrument in a variety of cold locations on Earth to see how the distribution and variety of biosignatures change depending on where they are. By testing WATSON in different Earth analogs — areas on Earth that can stand in for those on other worlds — scientists would be able to better understand the chemical fingerprints of any biosignatures detected on other worlds.