July 12, 2013 | David

I'm amazed we've managed to safely land robots on Mars. But how can we reliably get our technology onto the surface of planets and moons even further afield, such as Jupiter's icy moon Europa?

UK engineers have successfully tested a new option: slamming a big bullet-shaped 'penetrator' into their target. Rather than aiming for a gentle landing, they've focused on making the lander and the equipment it carries extremely robust. The design is simple and potentially much cheaper than current methods. But it's not what I'd call elegant!

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penetrator

The penetrator survived the impact at 340 metres per second.

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Image: Flickr/Jingly Jon

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