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Welcome to the Objective Europa forum for general debate and discussions in areas related to a crewed mission to Jovian moon Europa. Suggestions and ideas in the forum will not be filed as part of the research in phase-I.

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Pages: 1
Author Topic: Using Kinetic Energy Weaponry to Penetrate Europas Ice

Europa Dreamer
Posts: 17
Using Kinetic Energy Weaponry to Penetrate Europas Ice
on: September 24, 2013, 00:56

Since Phase-1 is simply brainstorming in the theoretical realm, I thought I'd float the idea of another theoretical concept to get through Europa's thick ice, Kinetic Bombardment (popularly referred to as "Rods from God"). Although it has never been used, Kinetic Bombardment goes something like this: First, a delivery module must be put in orbit around the target (similar in size to a commercial satellite). Metal rods, often made of Tungsten (W), are loaded into this delivery module, and when it reaches a suitable location it simply drops the rod towards the surface. The gravitational pull of the object pulls the rod down, accelerating it violently until it slams into the surface at many times the speed of sound. This method would not only accelerate the penetration process exponentially, but also it would eliminate the need for humans to be around while the ice is breached, lowering food and oxygen requirements.

Some downsides of this would be the very real possibility of disturbing indigenous life (if there is any), as a Kinetic Bombardment projectile hits the surface with greater force than most nuclear weapons. Another factor is cost: one would have to send out the delivery system, as well as dozens of Tungsten rods to use (each rod weighs approximately 9 tons, think of it as a telephone pole made of metal). Without major advances in efficiency to reduce the cost-per-pound of putting something into orbit around earth, much less sending it all the way to Europa, this may be unfeasible.

Please let me know what you think, comments and (constructive) criticism are always appreciated.

Posts: 45
Re: Using Kinetic Energy Weaponry to Penetrate Europas Ice
on: September 25, 2013, 12:18
Good idea but at the moment we do not know how thick the ice crust is. When it is thicker than 10 km I don't think the rods are strong enough. When it is thiner I think a cryobot or something is less expensive. We should also ask us if we are willing to take the responsibility for our doings.

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