VALKYRIE, led by Dr. William Stone of Stone Aerospace, is a NASA ASTEP-funded project for developing a novel thermal drill capable of penetrating thick ice sheets such as that on Europa in order to explore an extraterrestrial subsurface ocean. VALKYRIE operates by carrying high-power laser light down a single-core fiber optic cable and converting that to both heat and power. This enables highly-efficient energy delivery over kilometers of distance, allowing VALKYRIE to penetrate very thick ice sheets. The same fiber optic cable can be used for communications to report on anything it finds back to the surface.
SURFFS is a fluorescence spectrometer tuned to detect proteins (as a proxy for microorganisms) and minerals in the melt water generated by VALKYRIE. It is designed to run continuously and analyze fluorescence spectra for sudden increases in minerals or microbes which can then trigger other systems to collect or filter samples for later analysis.
Both VALKYRIE and SURFFS have been successfully tested at the Mantanuska glacier in June of 2014, though they were not integrated together. In June of 2015, they will be integrated together for a full-scale run.