October 4, 2012 - A $1 billion mission to retrieve the first ever fresh samples of our planet's mantle has been proposed.
The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program is set to delve deeper in to our planet's interior than ever before as researchers seek to answer long standing questions about the Earth and what lies within it. The mission would begin with the Japanese deep-sea drilling vessel, Chikyu, which would start drilling at the bottom of the ocean floor where the crust is at its thinnest.
Project co-leader Damon Teagle described the project as "the most challenging endeavor in the history of Earth science." If the plan goes ahead then drilling could begin before the end of the decade, however due to the limited lifespan of the drill bits it could take several years to actually reach the mantle.
If funding for this project is met, the drilling may start before the end of the decade and the mantle may be reached by the early 2020's, says CNN.
Bringing back samples will help scientists understand how the planet works and answer questions about the evolution of life on Earth