Within five years, scientists hope to begin using data from five underground particle detectors to determine the amount of fuel left inside the Earth. Credit: Ondřej Šrámek
To calculate the amount of fuel inside Earth, the scientists will focus upon detecting geoneutrinos, tiny particles which are byproducts of nuclear reactions within stars (including our sun), supernovae, black holes and human-made nuclear reactors.
The particles also are produced by radioactive decay deep within the Earth. Detecting geoneutrinos requires a detector the size of a small office building, buried a mile or so underground to protect it from cosmic radiation.
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Two such detectors -- one in Italy and the other in Japan -- currently exist, but another three are due to come on line in China and Canada in the next five years. One of the Chinese detectors, along the nation's southern coast, will be 20 times as big as any existing units.
"Once we collect three years of antineutrino data from all five detectors, we are confident that we will have developed an accurate fuel gauge for the Earth and be able to calculate the amount of remaining fuel inside Earth," University of Maryland geology professor William McDonough said in a press release.