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Space penetrator passes test on ice

Last Updated: Saturday, July 13, 2013 - 14:31

London: Engineers in the UK have finished testing a projectile technology which they believe could be used to explore the Solar System.

The steel penetrator was fired at a 10-tonne cube of ice to simulate the surface of Jupiter`s moon Europa.

It hit the block at a speed of 340m/s and decelerated rapidly, but its structure remained intact, as did its interior components, the BBC reported.

Researchers said that the penetrator would be a robust and inexpensive way to land instruments on other worlds.

These might be seismometers to study the interior of Mars, or a miniature organic chemistry laboratory to check for microbial activity on icy Jovian satellites.

Scientists envisage several penetrators being deployed at once, carrying perhaps a network of sensors to widely separated locations in the sub-surface.

Being able to get just a few metres down is key, because if life exists anywhere else in the Solar System, it is likely to be buried away from harsh space radiation.


First Published: Saturday, July 13, 2013 - 14:31

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