25 March 2011
A team of scientists is preparing a new attempt to drill through the Earth's crust to the mantle below for the first time ever. The team will soon drill beneath the Pacific to test the viability of such an operation, and say an attempt to reach the mantle could begin in 2018.
Click to hear the report:
They've selected prospective sites under the Pacific Ocean where the crust is at its thinnest - just six kilometres.
Dr Damon Teagle, of the UK's National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, is leading the quest. He likens the bid to the retrieval of Moon rocks by the Apollo programme and says samples from the mantle will tell us how our planet was formed and how it's changing.
Dr Damon Teagle: Just as the Moon rocks told us about the composition of the Moon and how that relates to the early formation of the Earth itself, so will these samples as well.
Reporter: Next month, the team will begin a bid to drill nearly two kilometres down through the ocean floor off the coast of Costa Rica. They say an attempt to reach the mantle could begin as early as 2018, funds and technology permitting.
Neil Bowdler, BBC News
Click to hear the vocabulary:
possible or suitable
long, difficult search or mission
says something is similar
small parts of something, which have been collected
things that are in an object, and how they are arranged
attempt or aim
- to drill
to operate a machine which creates a hole in something solid
allowing, or making something possible