They claim their mission deep within the Earth is as important as retrieving rocks from the Moon, and as difficult, too.
NG states, 'Scientists are planning to drill all the way through the planet's miles-thick crust to Earth's deep, hot mantle and retrieve samples for the first time. The samples, they say, would rival moon rocks for sheer scientific import'”and be nearly as hard to get.'
To do it, a Japanese ship equipped with six miles (ten kilometers) of drilling pipe will be used for the project.
The drilling is expected to commence in 2020 off the western coast of Costa Rica in Central America. And, preparatory exploration in the Pacific Ocean begins later in 2011.
At this location, in the middle of the ocean, the crust (the outermost solid shell of Earth) is thinner than elsewhere. In fact, it is only approximately 2.5 miles (4.0 kilometers) thick. Under the surface of the Earth is the crust, mantle, and core.
Elsewhere, such as underneath areas bordering land and water it can be around 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) thick and in the middle of land continents it can be 20 to 30 miles (30 to 50 kilometers) deep.
Even at this depth, it is still twice as deep as the ability of offshore drilling companies to drill into the Earth's insides.
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