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Headshot of Bruce Betts

New Planetary Deep Drill Project

Posted by Bruce Betts

28-10-2014 12:12 CDT

Topics: Planetary Deep Drill

I am very excited to announce that The Planetary Society has a futuristic new project: the Planetary Deep Drill with Honeybee Robotics to develop a prototype of a drill that could allow drilling hundreds of meters to even kilometers through planetary ices. The current drilling depth limit that has been achieved robotically on other worlds is only a few centimeters, so the robotic ability to drill even meters, much less hundreds of meters or kilometers, into planetary ices would be a revolutionary step in planetary exploration. We could look back in time by drilling the layers of the Martian polar caps, or learn more about the possible subsurface oceans on Europa and Enceladus.

Kris Zacny and Planetary Deep Drill

Bruce Betts / The Planetary Society

Kris Zacny and Planetary Deep Drill
Kris Zacny, the vice president and director of exploration technology for Honeybee Robotics, holds part of the instrument package for Planetary Deep Drill, which contains a microscope capable of resolving 0.5-micron particles

The Planetary Society is supporting field tests of the wire-line style drill at a gypsum mine near the Salton Sea in Southern California. Gypsum has similar strength properties to extremely cold water ice like that found on other planetary bodies, so is a good first step test for the prototype. The tests will likely occur in February or March 2015.

Learn more cool details and background about our new project on its project page on our web site. You can also see the press release about this from Honeybee Robotics with The Planetary Society.

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Donate to Planetary Deep Drill today!

See other posts from October 2014


Or read more blog entries about: Planetary Deep Drill


Gregk: 10/29/2014 10:10 CDT

I think we need to bring Bruce Willis in as a consultant on this one. But on a more serious note, this is very interesting because, even though no drill could reach the subsurface oceans of the icy moons in the outer solar system, I have read that these moons could have smaller pools of liquid much closer to the surface.

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