What Happens If We Drill A Hole Through The Moon

by Minal Bhonsale

What Happens If We Drill A Hole Through The Moon

April 4, 2021

Even after being the only extraterrestrial body that humans have stepped upon, the Moon is a mystery to us. We have little to no idea about what exactly happens under the Moon’s surface.  Unlike other rocky bodies, the inner core of the Moon makes up only 20% of its total mass. To understand what the rest 80% consists of, let us try to dig a hole through the Moon and see what we come across.

Excavating the Moon

In reality, digging a hole through the Moon with our current technology is practically impossible. Even if we manage to develop some advanced technology, it will take us at least 1300 years to reach the center and come back up on the surface. But since we can ignore this for the sake of the story, let’s do that.

We begin our hypothetical journey to the center of the Moon by choosing an area that would give us an ideal start for the digging. The best choice would be Iteken-Basin, situated at the south pole of the Moon. It is roughly 8 Km deep and is the most massive basin on the Moon.

Now that we have selected our location, it is time to start digging! The first layer we have to search through is Moon’s Regolith or, to put it in simple terms, Moon’s outer crust. This layer comprises billions of years of crushed asteroids, moondust, etc., and it is oddly dangerous. This dust is, in fact, razor-sharp. It can quickly get inside a suit or the drill, which would wear them down over some time. If you accidentally inhale this stuff, then get ready to die of lung cancer.

Procedural Digging of Moon

After digging through the outer crust, which is 49ft or 0.015 km deep, we reach the lunar crust. This is the Moon part, filled with resources that significant companies would like to capitalize on. The lunar crust is made of bedrock. It contains vast amounts of titanium and Aluminium. Some parts of iron, calcium, and magnesium can also be found along the way. We can either bring these back to earth or use these resources to colonize Moon.

100km of digging through the lunar crust leads us to the next layer, the lithosphere. This layer used to be magma and fuel the volcanoes on the Moon. Now that lithosphere has cooled down, it is found to be in a solid-state and is known to be 1000km deep.

What's Beneath the Surface?

So far, we have traveled 1100.015 Km deep into the Moon’s surface. What happens beneath this distance will be an overly unrealistic experience through a realistic texture. The next layer of the Moon is the asthenosphere. This layer is made of molten lava, so it is practically impossible for us to imagine traveling through this medium.

Just for the sake of the story, let us push human imagination boundaries to have a drill that digs through the magma and a good enough suit that helps us swim through a magma. A magma so hot that the temperature here is 1,500-degree Celsius.
As we drill through the hot flaming magma, we come across liquid iron, the outer layer of Moon’s core. It is roughly 330km in radius.

While there is a massive shift in our surroundings as we drill through the Moon’s surface, we will also notice a change of gravity as we reach the center. At the center, the seriousness of the Moon will be zero. The real weightless experience will be felt at the core of the Moon.

image 1 14
From lunar orbit, astronauts pointed cameras out the window of their spacecraft to capture photos of the moon's surface.

The Lunar Center

Well, for the Moon’s center, a quite dead looking celestial body, this was quite a journey in itself, literally. How do we get out now? The hole we have dug to enter must be filled with hot flaming magma, so we choose another way out of the Moon’s center because we can in this hypothetical situation.

The best side to get through would be the Moon’s side facing the earth, mostly because it is 40 Km thinner than the other part. What happens once we are out is subject to an open end.

Hypothetical Reality

While all of this is a hypothetical situation – could we do this in real life? Probably in the very far future with mind-bending technology? Yeah, but digging a hole through the Moon is not about “can we do it?” it is about “would be worth it?” and the answer to that so far seems a big no. It is a lot of time and effort put into things that have an easy alternative here on earth.  

So, till the time it seems worth it let us just find joy in imagining the most unimaginable things out there and using that to understand the structure of an entire celestial body.



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