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The crushing depths of Jupiter

  1. May 22, 2010 #1
    Is it simply a cost issue that we haven't sent a probe into the depths of Jupiter that can withstand the pressure, or are we just not capable of engineering something that can handle it?

    I realize that the pressures are far more immense than they are anywhere on Earth, but it seems like the answer would be to go as small as possible. Perhaps a diamond casing or something like that. Maybe some sort of giant buckeyball.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2010 #2
    Cost is the sole factor in almost every decision not to do something. The pressure of the atmosphere in Jupiter isn't that immense, if you wanted to go down into the planet then there would be issues.

    The technical challenge to make something to withstand the pressure is easy peasy, we can make pressure vessels that can go basically to the bottom of the ocean, thats over 1000 bar pressure. The problem simply comes down to cost, it's very expensive to make things do this.

    But to what end? We'd be lauching and sending something thats going to be pretty heavy. What would be hope to learn?
  4. May 22, 2010 #3
    Detect life on Jupiter :P
  5. May 22, 2010 #4


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    From wiki:
    Jupiter is thought to consist of a dense core with a mixture of elements, a surrounding layer of liquid metallic hydrogen with some helium, and an outer layer predominantly of molecular hydrogen.[27] Beyond this basic outline, there is still considerable uncertainty. The core is often described as rocky, but its detailed composition is unknown, as are the properties of materials at the temperatures and pressures of those depths (see below).
  6. May 22, 2010 #5
    Hmm, you are starting to talk about pressures that probably are unfeasable then. I'm not auctally sure how high the pressure and temperature would be at those extreme depths, as you are basically talking about going to a core of the planet.

    But something to decend through the upper atmosphere and down through the planet 'body' would be no problem you could probably get to a couple of hundered km below the 'surface' of the planet. Getting towards core depths is.... tricky, very tricky.
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  7. May 22, 2010 #6
    Perhaps the issue is the fear of discovering monoliths? :wink:

    Really, if we get a probe there, why not explore some of the more interesting moons instead?
  8. May 22, 2010 #7
    There was a Jupiter probe that entered the atmosphere and descended to the point where pressure destroyed it. The name of the probe was Galileo and it was launched in 1989. It was destroyed during descent in September? of 2003. I don't remember off-hand how deep into the atmosphere it got but it decended for almost an hour.
    I bet that NASA has the mission in its archives.
  9. May 28, 2010 #8
    I always thought it would be cool to send a little blimp to Jupiter and let it float around in the upper atmosphere taking readings and such. It'd be subject to some pretty high winds though.
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