Scientists to Drill Earth's Mantle, Retrieve First Sample It may not be a journey to the center of the Earth, but it could be the closest thing yet. Scientists are planning to drill all the way through the planet's miles-thick crust to Earth's deep, hot mantle and retrieve samples for the first time. The samples, they say, would rival moon rocks for sheer scientific import—and be nearly as hard to get. They are hoping that by 2020 they will be able to start drilling. Well goodluck to them, as there are still some huge challenges to overcome before they get there. Edit: Although the first (accidental) Magma drilling has already been done in 2008.