In early January, researchers and engineers from the University of Glasgow (Scotland) delivered to the southernmost continent on the planet modified version of the prototype drilling rig, which will be used on Mars, according to the portal Science News. An experiment in Antarctica aimed at obtaining soil samples from a depth of 1.6 kilometers, which will allow to better understand the climatic changes that occurred on Earth over several million years.
We work together with the team of the British Antarctic service (BAS). The latter is based on the Skytrain Ice Rise and 10 January with the help of his drilling rig drilled the well to a depth of 651 meters. Further, in the case are going to put high-tech installation of the Scots P-RAID, designed to work in conditions of low gravity of Mars, which as is known makes it difficult to create enough effort to break through the solid surface soil.
To solve this problem, engineers from Glasgow have created a machine that works on some other principle. Instead of a simple rotation of the drill setting at the same time punches and drills into the soil, and its actions are controlled by the control system with artificial intelligence. This allowed designers to reduce weight while increasing torque and make the system Autonomous, that will be useful when working on Mars.
The compact size and the ability to work offline interested team BAS searching for ways to drill Antarctic ice rock at the bottom of the well. Scientists have their own portable device for relatively soft ice, but the need to go lower once more solid layers of rock created real logistical difficulties for team working in a very remote from civilization location (you will have to carry the sea large installation).
To work in Martian conditions developed by the drill will also use ultrasound. However, for use in terrestrial conditions engineer Patrick Harkness and his team from Glasgow had to rework the drill, turning off the ultrasonic component. On Earth gravity is higher than on Mars, so the potential increase of power of the percussive mechanism of the drill will do an ultrasound effects are useless. Instead, the installation converted into a rotary-percussion drilling. Now the strike setting mechanism is moved according to a circular inclined plane and will punch the ground with each rotation of the drill.
While the BAS team will be engaged in chemical analysis of ice samples taken from different depths during the first drilling team from Glasgow will continue to go deep in the Antarctic ice. The researchers plan to measure the ratio of radioactive isotopes of beryllium-10 at various depths to determine when and how the structure of ice and soil in this area was changed under the influence of the reaction between the particles of cosmic rays, nitrogen atoms and oxygen. Knowing the ratio of isotopes in the rock, scientists will be able to understand when the last time soil was covered with ice and was under the direct influence of the atmosphere.
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