The $1 billion mission to drill down to the Earth's mantle

Published 10:15 AM ET, Mon October 1, 2012
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A team of international scientists are planning to drill into the Earth's mantle in an attempt to answer questions about the origins and evolution of life. The drills will need to get through around 6 km of oceanic crust to reach the mantle. JAMSTEC/IODP
Around 10 km of drilling equipment will be needed to drill down and reach the Earth's mantle -- a 3,000 km-thick layer of slowly deforming rock. JAMSTEC/IODP
The drills will need to be lowered through 2km of water before reaching the ocean floor -- it is here that the Earth's crust is at its thinnist (around 6 km). On land, the crust can be up to 60 km thick. JAMSTEC/IODP
Drilling through very hard rocks means that each drill only has a lifespan, lasting between 50-60 hours before needing to be replaced. JAMSTEC/IODP
The Japanese-funded drilling vessel Chikyu. JAMSTEC/IODP