News Article | May 7, 2017
When president Trump released his budget proposal earlier this year, space enthusiasts were dismayed to learn that it didn't include funding for NASA's mission to place a lander on Europa. Although it is just one of Jupiter's 67 moons, Europa is unique in that it is thought to have an ocean of liquid water under the icy, red-veined crust that covers its surface, which makes it the best candidate in the solar system for hosting alien life. But all hope is not lost for the subsurface exploration of Europa—just last week, NASA and the European Space Agency announced a joint mission proposal for a new Europa lander. This is particularly good news for the folks at Stone Aerospace, who have spent the last few years developing ARTEMIS, an autonomous submarine that is pioneering the technology that they hope will one day be used to explore Europa's ocean. In 2015, ARTEMIS was given its first field test off the coast of Antarctica and the results of these test runs were presented at NASA's astrobiology conference last week. By all accounts, the mission was a huge success. The submarine developed by Stone as part of a multi-million-dollar NASA grant is nearly 14 feet long, weighs over 2,800 pounds, and is capable of traveling a little over 3 miles on its own before returning and docking itself at its pickup point. Obviously, such a large craft would be prohibitive for any space mission to Europa. ARTEMIS was made from off-the-shelf parts and meant to test autonomous navigation and sample retrieval systems. The actual sub used on Europa would have to be entirely custom made to lower its bulk. The systems on ARTEMIS were designed with the particularly challenging environment of Europa in mind. The moon has no atmosphere, which means using parachutes to land a craft on its surface is a no-go. It has a surface temperature that never rises above -260 F and is covered with an icy crust of uncertain thickness (although NASA estimates it to be between 10 and 15 miles deep). Moreover, no one will know the chemical composition of the ocean beneath the icy shell until the Europa Clipper mission makes its flybys in the late 2020s. The first technical problem faced by a lander trying to get to Europa's liquid ocean is how to get through the thick layer of ice that covers the moon's surface. To this end, Stone is developing an autonomous cryobot called SPINDLE. The cryobot will basically be a large, nuclear-powered soldering iron that will house the submarine and melt a borehole through the ice to the ocean below using powerful lasers. Thus far, an early prototype of the SPINDLE cryobot called VALKYRIE has made two successful trips to test the penetration technology on an Alaskan glacier. According to Evan Clark, a field roboticist at Stone, getting permission to drop a nuclear reactor into a glacier in Alaska is "basically impossible" so the VALKYRIE bot made use of a 5 kilowatt laser to melt through the ice. "There's only one way to energetically to get through the ice shell of Europa and that's nuclear," Clark said at the NASA astrobiology conference. "You may get your energy from nuclear, but how are you going to use that? There's contact melt, using it to run a drill, or as the SPINDLE project has discovered, you can just fire the laser directly into the ice." So far, the maximum penetration rate achieved by Stone's cryobot is about 72 feet of ice per hour, but figuring out how to penetrate Europa's ice shelll is just half the problem. Given the freezing temperatures on the moon's surface, the borehole will continuously reseal behind the SPINDLE as it melts its way deeper into the crust. Electromagnetic waves don't propagate well through ice, which would make retrieving the valuable data from the alien-hunting submarine being towed by a cryobot impossible. To circumvent this issue, Kristof Richmond, the ARTEMIS project manager, said a cryobot on Europa would likely deposit radio receiver buoys into the ice from its rear as it makes it descent. Although the receivers will become encased in ice, they will be close enough together to allow radio signals to hop from receiver to receiver until they reach the surface, at which point they can be transmitted to an orbiter and sent back to Earth. Once the cryobot ice penetrator reaches liquid water, it will deploy an autonomous submarine. The sub must be autonomous because the lag time between Jupiter and Earth (between 30 minutes and an hour) and the difficulties of communicating with a craft submerged in water. So Richmond and his colleagues at Stone are developing a sophisticated autonomous guidance system which will allow the craft to safely navigate the ocean beneath the crust while also taking samples from the ice and surrounding water. Since radio waves do not propagate well underwater, an autonomous submarine on Europa will not have recourse to standard radio communications or GPS satellites. To get around these restraints, the Stone team turned to a navigation system that uses a gyroscope to determine the submarine's direction and a Doppler velocity log to measure the craft's speed relative to the ice ceiling. This navigation method works well enough, but due to drift in the ocean small navigation errors add up over the course of the journey so that the submarine can only return to within about a kilometer of its starting point—a small hole in a massive sheet of ice. At this point, the second part of the ARTEMIS navigation system kicks in: an acoustic beacon on the ARTEMIS docking station which allows the craft to navigate within 20-30 feet of the docking station. It will be able to see a white light bar attacked to the docking station, even in the pitch black of the under-ice ocean, and use a machine vision algorithm to navigate itself to the light. For now, the ARTEMIS team is still working through the data from the Antarctic mission which ended in December 2015. There are still a number of kinks to work out in the development of a future space-borne submarine, but they've got some time to figure it out. The most recent Europa lander mission only made it to the initial planning phase, so even if NASA and the European Space Agency go forward with their plans for a joint mission to the surface, it's unlikely that the mission will launch before the late 2020s. And Richmond hopes that their submarine will be along for the ride. "We are trying to push to have all these things at basic levels of development and technology readiness," Richmond told me. "Then when we find all the missing information from the Europa flyby and lander missions, we can pull the trigger and be ready to go." Subscribe to Science Solved It, Motherboard's new show about the greatest mysteries that were solved by science.
Stone W.,Stone Aerospace |
Hogan B.,Stone Aerospace |
Flesher C.,Stone Aerospace |
Gulati S.,Stone Aerospace |
And 8 more authors.
Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Part M: Journal of Engineering for the Maritime Environment | Year: 2010
This paper describes the 2008 and 2009 Antarctic deployments of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ENDURANCE autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). The goal of this project was to conduct three autonomous tasks beneath the ice cap 4m thick of West Lake Bonney: first, to measure the three-dimensional (3D) water chemistry of the lake at prespecified coordinates; second, to map the underwater face of the Taylor Glacier; third, to chart the bathymetry of the lake bottom. At the end of each mission the AUV had to locate and return through a hole in the ice slightly larger than the outer diameter of the vehicle. During two 10-week deployments to Antarctica, in the austral summers of 2008 and 2009, ENDURANCE logged 243h of sub-ice operational time, conducted 275 aqueous chemistry sonde casts, completed a 3D bathymetry survey over an area of 1.06 km2 at a resolution of 22cm, and traversed 74 km beneath the ice cap of West Lake Bonney. Many of the characteristics and capabilities of ENDURANCE are similar to the behaviours that will be needed for sub-ice autonomous probes to Europa, Enceladus, and other outer-planet icy moons. These characteristics are also of great utility for terrestrial operations in which there is a need for an underwater vehicle to manoeuvre precisely to desired positions in 3D space or to manoeuvre and explore complicated 3D environments. © Authors 2010.
News Article | February 28, 2017
ABOARD THE HI'IALAKAI NEAR KURE ATOLL—Back in 1986, 19-year-old college dropout Richard Pyle was 75 meters deep in the clear waters off Palau, pursuing a small pink fish with red tiger stripes, when he noticed it seemed hard to breathe. His pressure gauge showed plenty of air in his scuba tank, and at this depth, far below where most scuba divers dare to venture, Pyle was certain the fish would be a species new to science. He caught the fish in his net, then headed up. When he reached 55 meters, though, he couldn't breathe at all. The needle on his gauge, which had apparently been stuck, plunged to zero. Pyle did a rocket ascent, exhaling so his lungs wouldn't burst from expanding gas. As he breached the surface, he was seeing stars, a symptom of shallow-water blackout. He gulped a few breaths and managed to holler to an eminent ichthyologist waiting aboard the boat: "Jack, take a look at this fish!" Because of Pyle's rapid ascent, nitrogen bubbles within his bloodstream and tissues had ballooned in size, tearing flesh and nerves. He had decompression sickness—the bends—and further mishaps delayed treatment. By the end of the day he was paralyzed, unable to control his arm, legs, or bladder. And the fish? It wasn't new to science after all: The ichthyologist, John E. "Jack" Randall of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, had already collected, described, and named it. Reflecting back on the incident 30 years later, Pyle says without a trace of irony: "It was the best day of my life. Everything good in my life can be traced back to that day." Sure, he spent the next 30 days in decompression chambers, worked for weeks to regain use of his limbs, and walked with a cane for more than a year. But in order to get health insurance, he re-enrolled at the University of Hawaii. Once there, he continued on to earn a Ph.D. in ichthyology with Randall as his adviser, and then went to work at the Bishop Museum. His crippling brush with the bends propelled him into the world of technical diving, where he emerged as a pioneering rebreather diver, using the technology to reach greater and greater depths. Today, Pyle is still at the Bishop, working as an associate zoologist, database coordinator, and dive safety officer. But his impact on marine science goes much deeper than those titles suggest. He has carved out a niche as an explorer of the mysterious, dimly lit coral habitat that thrives from about 30 to 150 meters below the surface, in what he calls the Twilight Zone. Shallow reefs, with their brightly colored hard corals and fish, get most of the attention from scientists, conservationists, and the public. But studies of these deeper habitats, technically known as the mesophotic coral ecosystems, have surged lately, in part because they may offer a refuge for species squeezed out of shallower reefs damaged by pollution, overfishing, or global warming. The soft corals that dominate the mesophotic zone host a diverse and colorful community of wrasses, butterflyfishes, damselfishes, mollusks, crustaceans, and other sea creatures. Some of them dwell in both deep and shallow habitats, whereas others specialize in one or the other. Pyle "was really the first to bring deep reefs to the attention of both the science community and the general public," says Pim Bongaerts, a research scientist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Pyle helped develop the specialized diving equipment needed to explore the twilight reefs. He has already discovered more than 100 new fish species there, though he estimates that perhaps 2000 more coral reef fish have yet to be identified. He's driven by a sense of urgency to help science build a card catalog to the world's "biodiversity library," as he calls it, before species are lost to long-term human impacts such as climate change and overfishing. Pyle "does what little kids do: He asks questions and then follows up on them, fearlessly," says Sylvia Earle, former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who is now president of Mission Blue, a nonprofit advocating ocean conservation in Oakland, California. "He's a true pioneer and a courageous scientist." Identifying and describing the inhabitants of these reefs is just the first step. "We are just beginning to understand what lives there, but we don't know how they feed, how they interact with each other, how they reproduce," Pyle says. Whereas shallow reefs are sustained by photosynthesis, researchers still aren't entirely sure just what energy sources sustain such low-light ecosystems, for example. "Compared to what we know about shallow coral reefs, everything in the deep coral reefs is a big question mark." version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"? Tropical coral reefs extend to a surprising 150 meters below the surface. The brightly lit reefs in the top 30 meters, dominated by scleractinian or stony corals, make up about 20% of coral reef habitat and can be reached by divers using conventional scuba gear. Divers using rebreathers are just begin- ning to explore the remaining 80% of living reef habitat, called the mesophotic coral ecosystem. Four divers were suited up, looking more machine than man with their masks, mouthpieces, wraparound hoses, valves, computer displays, and multiple tanks. Waves bounced them around on a small boat here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a half-dozen kilometers off an atoll more than a week's cruise northwest of Honolulu. They were part of a team of scientists that spent 25 days last spring aboard the NOAA ship Hi'ialakai, diving around the shoals and atolls that stretch 2000 kilometers across the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, encompassing the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Their equipment was nothing like the standard scuba gear Pyle relied on in his disastrous college dive. Instead, they were equipped with rebreathers, which recycle a diver's air, greatly expanding time that can be spent underwater. It is this technology that has opened the twilight reefs to exploration. These reefs are too deep to be safely reached with ordinary scuba gear, and too convoluted to be thoroughly explored by expensive-to-operate submersibles and remotely operated vehicles. Neither land nor sea floor was in sight, just the deep blue in all directions. Three of the divers sweated under the sun in neoprene wetsuits, hoods, and gloves—prepared for the cold that would smack them in stages as they descended through thermoclines to water as chilly as 10°C at depth. One was a cool exception: Pyle looked serene in his customary diving attire of board shorts and a blue, long-sleeve, button-down shirt. Pyle says he has adapted to handle cold with repeated exposure, but his dive partners suspect it may also be related to nerve damage from his teenage diving accident. One longtime dive buddy has seen him emerge from the deep unaware of sea urchin spines stuck in his legs. Somersaulting backward into the sea, the divers descended as fast as possible. At 100 meters down, they would have only 20 minutes on the reefs, given the tight ship schedule and the need for more than 2 hours of decompression stops on the way up. Colorful scleractinian corals basking in sunlight dominated the top 30 meters. These are the familiar coral reefs, built by tiny colonial animals that farm symbiotic algae inside their calcareous skeletons and form mounds, branches, fingers, plates, and encrustations. Recently, researchers have found such stony corals far deeper than expected. For example, in a 20-year assessment of Hawaii's mesophotic coral reefs published in October 2016, Pyle led a team of 16 researchers who documented extensive coral gardens 70 to 90 meters deep off Maui and Kauai. Tens of square kilometers had nearly complete cover by platelike stony corals growing horizontally, presumably to maximize their exposure to light. The researchers also discovered vast fields of deep-dwelling seaweeds, with unique fish and invertebrates living in the thickets. On this day near an atoll, the divers pushed even deeper as the sea around them darkened to indigo. In the twilight, the hard corals gave way to soft gorgonian corals in myriad shapes and sizes, including sea fans, sea feathers, and whips in bushy clusters. Their silhouettes appeared dark until the divers' flashlights revealed their true colors, as bright and diverse as a rainbow. These soft corals are thought to feed on plankton, detritus, or dissolved organic matter, says postdoc Sonia Rowley of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, "but we really don't know what they eat." She suspects they may farm bacteria just as stony corals grow algae. Rowley, who frequently dives with Pyle, is one of the few who study deep-living gorgonians. Most researchers stick to the shallow reefs, where more research dollars flow. What compels scientists to plumb such depths? "It's not thrill seeking," Pyle says. "It's the thrill of discovery. The magic moment comes when I see a fish that no one else has ever seen before." Pyle, a fourth-generation Hawaiian, has been fascinated with fish since his boyhood in Honolulu. He was an active child, and to quiet him, his parents and three older siblings would plunk him down facing their home aquarium. He'd watch the fish for hours, mesmerized. As a preteen he collected fish and met another collector, Randy Kosaki, at an aquarium trade show. The pair began to dive together and continued to collaborate after both earned Ph.D.s from the University of Hawaii. Today, Kosaki is deputy superintendent of Papahānaumokuākea, and together he and Pyle have spent decades exploring the Twilight Zone and documenting its inhabitants. "We call ourselves the fish nerds and fish geeks," Kosaki says. "Rich is the king of fish geeks." On 5 June last year, halfway through the 25-day research cruise, a small pink and yellow basslet caught Pyle's eye as he prowled the sea floor off Kure Atoll. The fish had an unusual eye-shaped orange spot on its dorsal fin, an adaptation to confuse predators. The fish darted under a rock, but Pyle managed to net it before he was out of time and had to begin a slow 2-hour ascent. Later that day, Pyle plopped his tiny, colorful catch in an aquarium tank aboard the NOAA ship. He snapped a picture and emailed it to the world's top tropical fish experts. The list included Randall, who at age 92 is officially retired but still producing papers. "Never saw it," Randall fired back. Pyle's excitement rippled through the ship, as fellow scientists paraded by to see the discovery. The next day, Brian Greene, a longtime deep dive partner, spotted the female of the species in the last minute before he had to begin his ascent. "It was the luckiest collection I've ever been involved in," says Greene, an expert fish collector and a director of the Association for Marine Exploration in Honolulu. Both fish died shortly after coming aboard, probably because the seawater in the aquarium was not chilled. That suited Pyle just fine. Now he had a pair of holotypes, the first specimens of an unknown species. They needed to be pinned to a board, photographed, sampled for DNA, meticulously measured, fixed in formalin, and preserved in alcohol. Once their anatomy and DNA were compared with other species, the little fish could get a name. Pyle's an expert namer: He has named two dozen species in publications and has dozens more in the works. He's also a commissioner of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), the arbiter of scientific animal names since 1895. He was recruited for his knowledge of fish taxonomy and to use his database expertise to help modernize the organization, says Ellinor Michel of the Natural History Museum in London. She says Pyle emerged as "the architect and visionary" behind ZooBank, ICZN's online, open-access registry designed to capture all named animals; it's now at more than 175,000 names, or about 10% of the total. For this particular little fish, Pyle and his colleagues hatched a plot. When it was published in December 2016, they named it Tosanoides obama, in appreciation of then-President Barack Obama's decision to quadruple the size of Papahānaumokuākea, making it the world's largest marine protected area. T. obama is just one of hundreds of fish known only in these waters. The recently published review of Hawaii's reefs confirms that in contrast to shallow reefs, the deep habitats have extremely high levels of endemic fish. In the mesophotic zone surrounding Kure Atoll, 100% of fish were endemic to Hawaii—the highest proportion ever documented in the marine world, Kosaki says. Pyle and Kosaki have long puzzled over such high levels of endemism, which they attribute in part to Hawaii's remoteness. They also think it may have arisen because the deep reefs were unaffected by the rise and fall of sea levels during the ice ages. When glaciers grow and oceans shrink, the shallow reefs that sit atop steep-sided atolls go high and dry, triggering die-offs. Then, as sea levels rise again, these reefs are recolonized from larvae elsewhere in the Pacific. But on deep reefs, the habitat simply shifts up and down the steep slopes, allowing inhabitants enough time to evolve into endemic species, Pyle explains. He and Kosaki have assembled a team to test this hypothesis by comparing genetic signatures of species inhabiting deep and shallow reefs. If their hypothesis holds true, species restricted to shallow reefs will show genetic signs of recolonization across the Pacific within the past 20,000 years, whereas species restricted to deeper habitats will have telltale genetic divergences. Pyle typically surfaces last on team dives. He errs on the side of caution these days, allotting extra time for nitrogen and helium to escape his bloodstream. Decades ago, he began to pause his ascent below 30 meters to vent the expanding gas from the swim bladders of fish he was bringing to the surface. If he didn't puncture these buoyancy-control organs with a hypodermic needle, they would expand or burst and the fish would die. What was good for the fish turned out to be good for the fish collector. Pyle published his observation that he had less fatigue when he made such deep stops—now often called "Pyle stops"—which have become common practice on deep dives. In the mid-1990s, Pyle teamed up with Bill Stone, president and CEO of Austin-based Stone Aerospace, to improve the company's Poseidon rebreathers. Stone works on outer space vehicles for NASA but also probes the depths of Earth by mounting expeditions to the world's deepest caves, which invariably means deep diving in hard-to-reach places. So he began to design and engineer lighter weight rebreathers. A closed-circuit rebreather works by scrubbing carbon dioxide from exhaled air as it is recycled and then injecting fresh doses of oxygen into the gas mixture, which typically also includes nitrogen and helium. The trick is figuring out how much oxygen. "If you go too low, you go hypoxic and die," Stone says. "If you go too high, the oxygen level becomes poisonous and you will suffer a grand mal seizure. That simple question has been the cause of many of the 200 to 300 rebreather deaths in the past 20 years." Pyle has a rare talent for poring over data and spotting patterns, Stone says. "It was Rich who went through tens of thousands of [rebreather dive] records, teasing out something from big data that no one has ever caught," he says. Essentially, Pyle developed a lie detector test for the allimportant oxygen sensor, so that the system will adjust for any misread. All of this is merely the price of admission to explore where few others go. Although rebreather divers pay meticulous attention to their gauges and gear, they live for the precious minutes they spend at depth. Pyle and Greene almost always record their dives on video cameras attached to their rebreather rigs, whether documenting the capture of T. obama or swimming through swarms of fish that billow like a murmuration. Divers can get closer to fish on rebreathers because they are quieter than traditional scuba and release no bubbles. When on land, Pyle loves to regale audiences with vivid descriptions of this twilight world. Back in 2008, he was engaged in one of these unbridled bursts of enthusiasm at a dinner in Paris, recounting how a vast school of brilliant blue damselfishes swam by like sparkling jewels at a depth of 120 meters off Palau. At one point, his dinner companion held up a hand to interrupt the flow. "I have to stop you," said evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University. "What an honor it is to be in the presence of a true naturalist."
Sahl J.W.,Colorado School of Mines |
Fairfield N.,Carnegie Mellon University |
Harris J.K.,University of Colorado at Denver |
Wettergreen D.,Carnegie Mellon University |
And 2 more authors.
Astrobiology | Year: 2010
The deep phreatic thermal explorer (DEPTHX) is an autonomous underwater vehicle designed to navigate an unexplored environment, generate high-resolution three-dimensional (3-D) maps, collect biological samples based on an autonomous sampling decision, and return to its origin. In the spring of 2007, DEPTHX was deployed in Zacatón, a deep (∼318 m), limestone, phreatic sinkhole (cenote) in northeastern Mexico. As DEPTHX descended, it generated a 3-D map based on the processing of range data from 54 onboard sonars. The vehicle collected water column samples and wall biomat samples throughout the depth profile of the cenote. Post-expedition sample analysis via comparative analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed a wealth of microbial diversity. Traditional Sanger gene sequencing combined with a barcoded-amplicon pyrosequencing approach revealed novel, phylum-level lineages from the domains Bacteria and Archaea; in addition, several novel subphylum lineages were also identified. Overall, DEPTHX successfully navigated and mapped Zacatón, and collected biological samples based on an autonomous decision, which revealed novel microbial diversity in a previously unexplored environment. © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2010.
Gulati S.,Stone Aerospace |
Gulati S.,University of Texas at Austin |
Richmond K.,Stone Aerospace |
Flesher C.,Stone Aerospace |
And 6 more authors.
Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation | Year: 2010
Chemical properties of lake water can provide valuable insight into its ecology. Lakes that are permanently frozen over with ice are generally inaccessible to comprehensive exploration by humans. This paper describes the integration of several novel and existing technologies into an autonomous underwater robot, ENDURANCE, that was successfully used for gathering scientific data in West Lake Bonney in Taylor Valley, Antarctica, in December 2008. This paper focuses on three novel technological and algorithmic solutions. First, a robust position estimation system that uses an acoustic beacon to complement traditional dead-reckoning is described. Second, a novel vision-based docking algorithm for locating and ascending a vertical shaft by tracking a blinking light source is presented. Third, a novel profiling system for measuring water properties while causing minimal water disturbance is described. Finally, experimental results from the scientific missions in 2008 in West Lake Bonney are presented. ©2010 IEEE.
Stone W.C.,Stone Aerospace |
Hogan B.,Stone Aerospace |
Siegel V.,Stone Aerospace |
Lelievre S.,Stone Aerospace |
Flesher C.,Stone Aerospace
Annals of Glaciology | Year: 2014
VALKYRIE (Very-deep Autonomous Laser-powered Kilowatt-class Yo-yoing Robotic Ice Explorer) is a NASA-funded project to develop key technologies for an autonomous ice penetrator, or cryobot, capable of delivering science payloads through outer planet ice caps and terrestrial glaciers. This 4 year effort will produce a cylindrical cryobot prototype 280cm in length and 25cm in diameter. One novel element of VALKYRIE's design is the use of a high-energy laser as the primary power source. 1070nm laser light is transmitted at 5kW from a surface-based laser and injected into a customdesigned optical waveguide that is spooled out from the descending cryobot. Light exits the downstream end of the fiber, travels through diverging optics, and strikes an anodized aluminum beam dump, which channels thermal power to hot-water jets that melt the descent hole. Some beam energy is converted to electricity via photovoltaic cells, for running on-board electronics and jet pumps. Since the vehicle can be sterilized prior to deployment, and forward contamination is minimized as the melt path refreezes behind the cryobot, expansions on VALKYRIE concepts may enable cleaner access to deep subglacial lakes. This paper focuses on laser delivery and beam dump thermal design.
Febretti A.,University of Illinois at Chicago |
Richmond K.,Stone Aerospace |
Gulati S.,Stone Aerospace |
Flesher C.,Stone Aerospace |
And 5 more authors.
Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics) | Year: 2012
We evaluate the use of Poisson reconstruction to generate a 3D bathymetric model of West Lake Bonney, Antarctica. The source sonar dataset has been collected by the ENDURANCE autonomous vehicle in the course of two Antarctic summer missions. The reconstruction workflow involved processing 200 million datapoints to generate a high resolution model of the lake bottom, Narrows region and underwater glacier face. A novel and flexible toolset has been developed to automate the processing of the Bonney data. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.