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Our Projects

Planetary Deep Drill

Probing below planetary surfaces

In 2013, NASA's Curiosity rover drilled a few centimeters into the surface of Gale Crater on Mars, discovering clays and sulfates that indicated the spacecraft was probably sitting on an ancient lake bed.

What if we could go deeper? What secrets could we find meters, or even kilometers, under the Martian polar ice caps? Or beneath the icy crusts of Europa and Enceladus?

That's the idea behind the Planetary Deep Drill, a new technology built by Honeybee Robotics. Honeybee hopes to fulfill one of the biggest needs for subsurface planetary exploration: lightweight, portable drills that pack enough punch to probe deep beneath planetary surfaces.

In late 2015, The Planetary Society sponsored Planetary Deep Drill field tests at a gyspum quarry near the Salton Sea in southern California. The tests were a success. Honeybee intends to return in 2016, and try the drill in Greenland after that. NASA is also working with Honeybee to equip the drill with an ultraviolet light spectrometer that can detect the presence of organics.

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Project updates

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Planetary Deep Drill Multimedia

A collection of pictures, video, and radio shows related to our Planetary Deep Drill project.

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About the project

Learn more about the Planetary Deep Drill, designed to chew deep beneath planetary subsurfaces.

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Press Room

Press releases, images, and other resources for the media about The Planetary Society's work with the Planetary Deep Drill system.

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