Drilling vs. Melting

• August 19th, 2013, 05:46 PM
sth128
Drilling vs. Melting
I've read that the ocean under Europa might one day become a destination of exploration. However in order to reach the water one must find a way through the planet's outer layer of ice. My question is which is more efficient, drilling or melting? I know how to calculate the theoretical value of energy necessary to melt through ice, but when I tried to find a formula for drilling energy, I can't think of any. Google yielded no useful results. I can't even find the data for fuel consumption on ice core drills.

I am not sure if it involves formation energy of lattice structures or what not, if such a thing even exists. Can someone give me a hint?

Theoretically which one will use more energy anyway?

 Europa, not Europe. There's only dead people and lava under Europe.
• August 19th, 2013, 05:49 PM
shlunka
Didn't know there was an ocean under Europe.
• August 19th, 2013, 05:57 PM
shlunka
Quote:

Originally Posted by PhDemon
I think the OP means Europa...

Kinda odd isn't it? We've had two threads with the same malapropism over the last few days. The end is near I says the end is near.
• August 19th, 2013, 06:25 PM
Dywyddyr
Quote:

Originally Posted by shlunka
Didn't know there was an ocean under Europe.

Don't be silly, if you drill down far enough you reach the Pacific Ocean.
Damn! I shouldn't have pointed that out because then someone might cotton on to my master to steal it from underneath.
• August 19th, 2013, 06:48 PM
shlunka
Quote:

Originally Posted by Dywyddyr
Quote:

Originally Posted by shlunka
Didn't know there was an ocean under Europe.

Don't be silly, if you drill down far enough you reach the Pacific Ocean.
Damn! I shouldn't have pointed that out because then someone might cotton on to my master to steal it from underneath.

There are cotton fields down there too?
• August 19th, 2013, 07:18 PM
billvon
A good drill will always win out over trying to melt something from a pure energy perspective.

However, melting requires lower quality energy. For example, a slug of something with a short half life (like Polonium 210) will make it very simple to melt through - just drop it on the ice. A 1kg sphere of Polonium-210 will release ~140kW for a few weeks, for example. You probably want something with a slightly longer half life so it can survive the flight out there, but there are plenty of options for that. (Plutonium, Strontium, Americinium etc)