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Image by Rakot13 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Could we send a robotic probe to Earth’s core?

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It’s a long journey to the centre of the Earth, but getting there isn’t just a hard slog for us humans.

Asked by: Maddie Fraser, London

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It’s 6,371km (3,959 miles) to the centre of the Earth and the deepest hole ever drilled (the Kola Superdeep Borehole, now welded shut in the image above) was only 12km (7.5 miles) deep. We could try sending a robot probe, but it would not get very far. The pressure in the Earth’s core is more than 3,000 times the pressure at the bottom of our deepest ocean. The temperature is more than 5,000°C. Your poor little tunnelling machine would be crushed to a pea and then cooked to a bubble of gas long before it could get anywhere near Earth’s core.

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Image by Rakot13 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Authors

Dr Peter Bentley is a computer scientist and author who is based at University College London. He is the author of books including 10 Short Lessons in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Digital Biology: How nature is transforming our technology and our lives.

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