Would it be possible to send a robotic probe to the Earth's core?

  • Thread starter Jupiter60
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Core Probe
In summary: C on May 19, 2019In summary, the author suggests that it would be possible to send a robotic probe to the Earth's core, but the pressure and temperature would be difficult to deal with. The project would require a lot of iron, and the mission would take about a week to reach the core.
  • #1
Jupiter60
79
22
Would it be possible to send a robotic probe to the Earth's core?
 
Earth sciences news on Phys.org
  • #2
Given our current technology - no. Please do not start speculating, PF is meant for proven Science.

Consider some of the facts mentioned here: temperature, pressure being the most daunting
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_core
 
  • #3
Jupiter60 said:
Would it be possible to send a robotic probe to the Earth's core?
Sure. But finding someone to dig the hole is the challenging part.
 
  • Like
Likes billy_joule and 1oldman2
  • #4
Such a project would be exposed to temperatures of thousands of degrees even while still in the mantle, nowhere near the core.
I'm pretty sure that would lead to many possible modes of structural failure, but probably the electronic systems would fry before it got to that stage.
 
  • #5
No. We estimate the core-mantle boundary to be at ~ 3700°K. None of our technology would work at that temperature. The deepest hole we've ever dug is a little over 12 km at which temperatures our equipment failed due (mostly) to temperature (and those temps were far cooler than 1000°C!). For comparison, the mantle-core boundary is at ~ 2900 km. It is impossible to predict whether there will be some "advanced technology" which will allow us to dig down through the Mantle, but the likelihood is vanishingly small based on what we know now.
 
  • Like
Likes jim mcnamara
  • #6
Jupiter60 said:
Would it be possible to send a robotic probe to the Earth's core?
Today is May 19th. You missed April Fools' Day by a month and a half.
 
  • Like
Likes Hoophy, davenn, 1oldman2 and 1 other person
  • #7
The pressure would be equally challenging to deal with as the temperature. Whatever the original shape of your "probe" it would be crushed into a sphere with any air gaps being crushed into nothing. I calculated the pressure once and the strength of the pressure vessel material required was far beyond any known material. I don't recall the numbers off hand but calculating the pressure at the center of the Earth is an interesting problem.
 
  • #8
At the core there is no solid material as it will be a molten high temperature goo.
 
  • #9
No - the inner core is thought to be solid due to enormous pressure - see the link about the inner core in post #2 above.
 
  • #10
Stevenson's 2003 paper in Nature illustrates the scale of technology that would be required for such an undertaking.

Nature 423, 239-240 (15 May 2003)
Planetary science: Mission to Earth's core — a modest proposal
Abstract:
Planetary missions have enhanced our understanding of the Solar System and how planets work, but no comparable exploratory effort has been directed towards the Earth's interior, where equally fascinating scientific issues are waiting to be investigated. Here I propose a scheme for a mission to the Earth's core, in which a small communication probe would be conveyed in a huge volume of liquid-iron alloy migrating down to the core along a crack that is propagating under the action of gravity. The grapefruit-sized probe would transmit its findings back to the surface using high-frequency seismic waves sensed by a ground-coupled wave detector. The probe should take about a week to reach the core, and the minimum mass of molten iron required would be 108–1010 kg — or roughly between an hour and a week of Earth's total iron-foundry production.
 
  • #11
That's a lot of iron.

--diogenesNY
 
  • Like
Likes Stephanus

1. Can a robot survive the extreme temperatures and pressures at the Earth's core?

It is highly unlikely that a robot could survive the extreme temperatures and pressures at the Earth's core. The temperature at the core is estimated to reach up to 6000 degrees Celsius and the pressure is approximately 360 GPa, which is equivalent to 3.6 million times the atmospheric pressure at sea level. These extreme conditions would most likely destroy any man-made object, including a robotic probe.

2. How would a robotic probe be able to withstand the intense heat and pressure?

There are currently no materials that can withstand the extreme temperatures and pressures at the Earth's core. However, scientists are constantly researching and developing new materials that could potentially withstand these conditions. Additionally, the probe could be designed to have a protective heat shield and be made from materials that can withstand high temperatures, such as ceramic composites.

3. What would be the purpose of sending a robotic probe to the Earth's core?

The main purpose of sending a robotic probe to the Earth's core would be to study the composition and structure of the core. This could provide valuable insights into the Earth's formation and evolution. It could also help us understand the processes happening at the core, such as convection and the Earth's magnetic field.

4. How would a robotic probe be able to navigate through the Earth's layers to reach the core?

A robotic probe would most likely use a combination of drilling and melting techniques to navigate through the Earth's layers. It could also use advanced mapping technology and sensors to detect changes in temperature and pressure, as well as obstacles along the way.

5. Are there any potential risks or consequences of sending a robotic probe to the Earth's core?

There are potential risks and consequences associated with sending a robotic probe to the Earth's core. One risk is that the probe could get stuck or damaged along the way, which would result in a loss of time and resources. There is also a possibility of triggering seismic activity or other natural disasters. Additionally, any information or samples collected by the probe would need to be handled carefully to prevent any potential harm to the environment or human health.

Similar threads

  • Earth Sciences
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • Electrical Engineering
Replies
12
Views
849
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • Earth Sciences
Replies
23
Views
8K
Replies
23
Views
7K
Replies
5
Views
845
  • Electrical Engineering
Replies
4
Views
681
Replies
42
Views
3K
  • Aerospace Engineering
Replies
19
Views
1K
  • General Discussion
Replies
1
Views
624
Back
Top