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Can a Hole be Drilled Through a Planet?

Many children have dreamed of digging a hole through the center of the Earth and emerging on the other side. However, drilling through a planet is not as simple as it seems. The Earth, for example, contains a sea of molten iron and extreme temperatures and pressures that would make drilling impossible.

In a podcast episode by The Science Spotlight, the hosts explore the question of drilling through a planet. They discuss the challenges involved and the potential for drilling through smaller worlds like Pluto. Planetary scientists Konstantin Batygin and Baptiste Journaux join the discussion to share their insights on the logistics and consequences of such an endeavor.

Drilling through gas giants like Jupiter is not feasible due to the intense temperatures and pressures below their clouds. On the other hand, smaller planets like Mars could be potential candidates for drilling, as long as they don’t have a magnetic field that would complicate the process.

However, the main obstacle to drilling through any planet is the extreme heat. As you go deeper into a planet, the temperature rises quickly, surpassing the melting point of metals and making it impossible to drill using conventional means. Even the deepest hole ever drilled on Earth, the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Siberia, had to be stopped due to the destruction of drill bits caused by high temperatures.

Drilling through a gas giant would present its own challenges, such as the gas easily filling any hole created. Even with a force field to prevent gas displacement, the extreme temperatures at deeper levels would still pose a problem.

As for drilling through Pluto, its extremely cold surface would make a person’s body heat enough to start a borehole. However, as you descend deeper into Pluto, the temperature would rise, eventually becoming too hot for comfort.

Moreover, even if a tunnel were successfully created through a planet, it would not be a desirable place to explore. The high temperatures at the center would cause the tunnel to emit intense light and would make it an unpleasant and short-lived experience.

Considering the difficulties and limitations involved, drilling a hole through a planet remains a challenging and unlikely endeavor. Gas giants and planets with extreme temperatures and pressures make drilling impossible, while smaller worlds like Mars and Pluto present their own challenges.

So, while the idea of drilling through a planet may be appealing to many, the practical and scientific obstacles make it an unrealistic and potentially hazardous endeavor.

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