Bruce BettsOct 28, 2014

New Planetary Deep Drill Project

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
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 particlesImage: Bruce Betts / The Planetary Society

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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