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Thread: Drilling vs. Melting

  1. #1 Drilling vs. Melting 
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    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?

    [edit] Europa, not Europe. There's only dead people and lava under Europe.


    Last edited by sth128; August 19th, 2013 at 06:30 PM.
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  3. #2  
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    Didn't know there was an ocean under Europe.


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  4. #3  
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    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.
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    Genius Duck Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shlunka View Post
    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.
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  6. #5  
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by shlunka View Post
    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?
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  7. #6  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard
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    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)
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