Feb 4, 2017

Technical details on Zaptec Plasma Drill which could drill 2000 meters down with gear that could fit in a SpaceX Dragon capsule

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Zaptec has a new plasma drilling technology which could achieve practical, affordable, and reliable deep drilling on the Moon, asteroids, Mars, and its moons. The drilling system comprises a freely advancing drill head tethered by a power cable to a power source topside and high voltage generator downhole. The drill advances by generating a high-energy density plasma at the drill head which breaks down and pulverizes the target rock. A key enabling technology is the system’s ability to deliver high energy plasma discharges via low mass, small volume power transformers located in the drill head section. Powder cuttings may be removed by circulating compressed CO2.

Zaptec on the Moon

On the Moon, the subsurface in the polar regions may be a repository of volatiles of value to science and as a potential resource for future human exploration. A Zaptec drill could be deployed on a future robotic lunar lander mission, such as Moon Express, or in the context of human missions. The fine dust from drilling goes through the unit, is analysed, and then sprayed into a dust exhaust in contact with the surface vacuum. An alternative scenario is to expand the module with a processing unit which sorts out minerals from H2O/CO2 ice. The mineral dust can then be used as raw materials for local manufacturing.

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