Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Mantle penetrating unmanned vehicle

Solvable with physics, thermodynamics and technology
  [vote for,

The mantle - the layer under earth's crust is 1000C hot rock in of a fuggy texture, not melting due to the pressure at those depths (14 km into the crust and 2,900 km thick).

Since there is always a gradient in heat between the crust and the mantle, the energy difference could be used to propel and maintain a technologically working vehicle, which may treat the pressure in the way deep submarines are able to contain the pressure and heat (or cold) of the deep sea, while providing surface pressure and heat inside.

Because this is an unmanned vehicle, the heat and pressure inside could be above what humans would withstand, and there exist many materials for the external surface that do not melt at 1000C.

I presume that electronic communication could work underground, but even if not, a trailing line of carbon- steel or cupro-nickel wire could be used.

pashute, Mar 04 2015

Journeys to the Center of the Earth http://discovermaga...center-of-the-earth
Discover magazine article. [Loris, Mar 10 2015]

Mission to Earth's core — a modest proposal http://www.nature.c...7/full/423239a.html
Original paper in Nature (paywall - abstract free) [Loris, Mar 10 2015]

Mission to Earth’s core — a modest proposal http://www.cmp.calt...gue/to-the-core.pdf
Free pdf [xaviergisz, Mar 12 2015]


       Something like this could only sample its immediate environs. Although that is not hugely different from an extraplanetary rover.   

       Will you lay out how the heat differential could be used to power the digger? Would it be via the towed cable? Because this is now converging on a drill. I would think that changes in temperature in a conductive material like rock occur over sizeable distances. At any given rover sized area there would be one ambient temperature.   

       But maybe I am wrong. Water bodies have thermoclines. Is there a chthonic equivalent?
bungston, Mar 04 2015

       //chthonic// gesundheit.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 04 2015

       A scientifically rigorous proposal has previously been made to send a probe to the Earth's core, using a nuclear bomb and 110,000 tons of molten iron.   

       Noone has tried it yet.
Loris, Mar 10 2015

       [bungston] 3.5°K / 100 meters, average over normal drilling depths
lurch, Mar 10 2015

       //3.5°K / 100 meters, average over normal drilling depths//   

       Which would put the centre of the Earth at...223,000°K. Unprobable and inlikely, if you ask me.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 12 2015

       Since the linked Nature article is paywalled, I cannot resist quoting the first paragraph of the Introduction:   

       "We live on the Earth's surface, which divides what is above from what is below (Fig. 1). The part above us (the rest of the Universe) is mostly empty, mostly unknown and about 10^57 times larger by volume. The part below is crammed with interesting stuff and is also mostly unknown, despite its much greater proximity to us."   

       This has to be one of my favourite opening paragraphs of all time. I also quite like, from a little further into the paper:   

       "The Earth's interior is opaque to electromagnetic signals with periods of less than the mission timescale, and neutrinos are difficult to use, so acoustic communication would be best."
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 12 2015

       I found that paper hard to read - the smug was dripping off the page and it had a unsettling mixture of excessive detail on some aspects and no detail on others. Interesting idea though.
xaviergisz, Mar 12 2015


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