Since it is thought that there is a liquid ocean beneath the ice, more research is being done to see whether there is life there. Representational image. Yuichiro Chino/Gettyimages

Do other planets have life? The one to find out might be a brand-new snake-like robot.

For a space trip to Enceladus, one of Saturn's 83 moons famed for its icy surface that is the whitest and most reflective in the solar system, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is developing the Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor (EELS).

Since it is thought that there is a liquid ocean beneath the ice, more research is being done to see whether there is life there.

The Jet Propulsion Lab describes EELS as a "snake-like, self-propelled robot" made of segments with "first-of-a-kind rotating propulsion units" that enable it to grip surfaces and travel beneath the water.

It is hoped that the robot snake will be able to enter the ocean below by slithering through vents on Enceladus' surface.

To make sure it is prepared for the task, the roughly 16-foot-tall, 230-pound robot is undergoing rigorous testing in a variety of settings, CBS News reported.

The "head" of the snake will have equipment that enables EELS to record the environment in 3D and transmit live footage to operators.

In the meanwhile, its body will be able to transport and launch a science payload that might enable researchers to measure temperature, electrical conductivity, and subsurface pressure.

It was tested at the Athabasca Glacier in Canada's Jasper National Park last autumn.

A launch date for EELS has not yet been announced, but researchers hope to finalize the EELS concept by the fall of 2024.

"We are early in the project, but it is achievable in our lifetime," EELS Deputy Project Manager Rachel Etheredge said last year. "...It's an ambitious collaboration, and we're motived by the shared excitement we have for this concept, and the potential science we could gather with EELS."

"The EELS system is a mobile instrument platform conceived to explore internal terrain structures, assess habitability and ultimately search for evidence of life," NASA says of its development.

"It is designed to be adaptable to traverse ocean-world-inspired terrain, fluidized media, enclosed labyrinthian environments and liquids."

EELS would take around 12 years to travel to the Saturn moon once it is ready to launch, but after it enters a vent in the icy crust, experts believe it would only take the robot snake a few days to reach the ocean.

According to NASA, the robot snake could further the research of aquatic worlds by enabling "deeper exploration into areas that were once unattainable."

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