Artist’s concept of possible future Venus rechargeable lander and power-beaming vehicle.

Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA is funding a study that may pave the way for a rechargeable lander on Venus; one that would be wirelessly charged by a floating, balloon-like companion that would collect solar power in our neighboring planet’s upper atmosphere.

Venus’ extraordinarily inhospitable atmosphere and surface have long hampered attempts to explore the planet. With surface temperatures of 450 Celsius; surface pressures 92 times that of Earth and a thick carbon dioxide-dominated atmosphere, Venus has long guarded its secrets.

But this nine-month, phase one initiative funded by NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, may finally help a lander get a handle on Venus’ surface chemistry, geology, and history.

The idea is to use an autonomous, floating power generator to collect solar energy near the top of Venus’ thick atmosphere.

The top of the Venus atmosphere incoming solar radiation averages about 2636 watts per square meter, whereas at the top of Earth’s atmosphere, the solar constant is about 1367 watts per square-meter, Erik Brandon, a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) power technologist who’s leading the study, told me.

Once the atmospheric collector had topped off its batteries, it would likely transmit power via microwave (or possibly in the radio spectrum) from onboard high-temperature batteries to high-temperature batteries on the lander.

The transmitted energy, says Brandon, would be converted to direct current electrical power on the lander via a rectifying antenna or “rectenna” constructed from suitable high-temperature materials and using high-temperature silicon carbide diodes. Thus, the lander should be able to continually extend its operating life. Or at least for longer than the former Soviet Union’s 1970s’-era Venera landers, which never even lasted two hours on the Venusian surface.

Once the lander’s batteries were recharged, the solar power collecting spacecraft would re-ascend back up to the upper reaches of Venus’ atmosphere to recharge its own batteries once again.

Brandon says the biggest challenge is likely to be achieving sufficient control with the collecting vehicle to adequately maneuver the Venus atmosphere between charging at higher altitudes and then getting back to the lander site. The collecting balloon vehicle will then have to maintain control while beaming its power to the lander.

But this continual process of collecting and recharging solar energy for the lander would continue as long as the lander’s components and electronics survived Venus’ harsh environment.

Brandon says in principle this lander/floating-charger combination could also work to keep a Venusian rover powered up. The floating balloon platform could also serve as a communications relay between Earth and the lander. And, in theory, it could continue to function as a secondary science mission even after the lander had ceased to function.

But can the lander’s electronics survive the surface heat and pressures?

We intend to leverage advances in high-temperature electronics (such as silicon carbide devices) and packaging to determine if we can design an end-to-end power system, says Brandon.

This phase one study will answer questions such as what altitudes would the collecting spacecraft have to be? How long would the lander be able to run off a single upload of new power? And what would the lander’s surface life be upon first landing, without being recharged?

The initial goal is to ensure it can run with fully-charged batteries until the first recharge event, says Brandon.

Map of Soviet-era landers on Venus.

Credit: Wikipedia

Why not simply use a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). That is, an electrical power unit that generates energy from the natural decay of radioactive material?

“There are no RTGs that can survive at Venus temperatures and conditions,” said Brandon. “Right now, the focus at NASA is on developing improved RTGs for low-temperature, vacuum environments in deep space.”

Where else might this tech be used in planetary exploration?

Brandon says the principle of such a power beamer might work on low-temperature ocean worlds in the outer solar system. That’s where a fixed lander with sufficient power would turn the technology on its head and beam power to a smaller probe. “The idea is that it allows you to extend your fixed power source beyond the boundaries of the lander,” said Brandon.

But Venus would hopefully see some variation of this balloon-collecting and power-beaming technology first. And if Brandon’s current study is successful, a potential second round of funding offers an additional two years of study.

The planetary science community is eager to get on with Venus surface exploration. The Venus exploration community would like to see a working lander that would last for days at least, says Brandon. Or at least long enough to collect data and perhaps perform some simple sampling.

“[But] it is difficult to predict the lifetime of a mission in such a harsh environment,” said Brandon.

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(******** )(********* )Artist’s principle of possible future Venus rechargeable lander and power-beaming car.

Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA is moneying a research study that might lead the way for a rechargeable lander on Venus; one that would be wirelessly charged by a drifting, balloon-like buddy that would gather solar energy in our surrounding world’s upper environment.

Venus’ extremely unwelcoming environment and surface area have actually long obstructed efforts to check out the world. With surface area temperature levels of 450 Celsius; surface area pressures 92 times that of Earth and a thick carbon dioxide-dominated environment, Venus has actually long protected its tricks.

However this nine-month, stage one effort moneyed by NASA’s Ingenious Advanced Ideas (NIAC) program, might lastly assist a lander get a deal with on Venus’ surface area chemistry, geology, and history

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The concept is to utilize(******************* )a self-governing, drifting power generator to gather solar power near the top of Venus’ thick environment

The top of the Venus environment inbound solar radiation averages about 2636 watts per square meter, whereas at the top of Earth’s environment, the solar constant has to do with 1367 watts per square-meter, Erik Brandon, a NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) power technologist who’s leading the research study, informed me.

(************* )Once the climatic collector had actually complemented its batteries, it would likely transfer power through microwave (or potentially in the radio spectrum) from onboard high-temperature batteries to high-temperature batteries on the lander.

The transmitted energy, states Brandon, would be transformed to direct present electrical power on the lander through a correcting antenna or “rectenna” built from appropriate high-temperature products and utilizing high-temperature silicon carbide diodes. Therefore, the lander needs to have the ability to continuously extend its running life. Or a minimum of for longer than the previous Soviet Union’s 1970 s’- period Venera landers, which never ever even lasted 2 hours on the Venusian surface area.

(********************** )(****** )(************* )Once the lander’s batteries were charged, the solar energy gathering spacecraft would re-ascend back up to the upper reaches of Venus ‘environment to charge its own batteries as soon as again.

Brandon states the greatest obstacle is most likely to be attaining enough control with the gathering car to effectively navigate the Venus environment in between charging at greater elevations and after that returning to the lander website. The gathering balloon car will then need to keep control while beaming its power to the lander.

However this continuous procedure of gathering and charging solar power for the lander would continue as long as the lander’s parts and electronic devices endured Venus’ extreme environment.

Brandon states in concept this lander/floating-charger mix might likewise work to keep a Venusian rover powered up. The drifting balloon platform might likewise function as an interactions relay in between Earth and the lander. And, in theory, it might continue to operate as a secondary science objective even after the lander had actually stopped to operate.

However can the lander’s electronic devices make it through the surface area heat and pressures?

We plan to utilize advances in high-temperature electronic devices (such as silicon carbide gadgets) and product packaging to figure out if we can develop an end-to-end power system, states Brandon.

This stage one research study will respond to concerns such as what elevations would the gathering spacecraft need to be? For how long would the lander have the ability to run a single upload of brand-new power? And what would the lander’s surface area life be upon very first landing, without being charged?

The preliminary objective is to guarantee it can keep up fully-charged batteries till the very first recharge occasion, states Brandon.

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Map of Soviet-era landers on Venus.

Credit: Wikipedia

Why not merely utilize a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). That is, an electrical power system that produces energy from the natural decay of radioactive product?

” There are no RTGs that can make it through at Venus temperature levels and conditions,” stated Brandon. “Today, the focus at NASA is on establishing enhanced RTGs for low-temperature, vacuum environments in deep area.”

Where else might this tech be utilized in planetary expedition?

Brandon states the concept of such a power beamer may deal with low-temperature ocean worlds in the external planetary system. That’s where a repaired lander with enough power would turn the innovation on its head and beam power to a smaller sized probe. “The concept is that it permits you to extend your set source of power beyond the borders of the lander,” stated Brandon.

However Venus would ideally see some variation of this balloon-collecting and power-beaming innovation initially. And if Brandon’s present research study succeeds, a prospective 2nd round of financing provides an extra 2 years of research study.

The planetary science neighborhood aspires to proceed with Venus surface area expedition. The Venus expedition neighborhood want to see a working lander that would last for days a minimum of, states Brandon. Or a minimum of enough time to gather information and maybe carry out some easy tasting.

“[But] it is challenging to forecast the life time of an objective in such an extreme environment,” stated Brandon.

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57591623037″ >

.

Artist’s principle of possible future Venus rechargeable lander and power-beaming car.

Credit: NASA/JPL

.

.

NASA is moneying a research study that might lead the way for a rechargeable lander on Venus; one that would be wirelessly charged by a drifting, balloon-like buddy that would gather solar energy in our surrounding world’s upper environment.

Venus’ extremely unwelcoming environment and surface area have actually long obstructed efforts to check out the world. With surface area temperature levels of 450 Celsius; surface area pressures 92 times that of Earth and a thick carbon dioxide-dominated environment, Venus has actually long protected its tricks.

However this nine-month, stage one effort moneyed by NASA’s Ingenious Advanced Ideas (NIAC) program, might lastly assist a lander get a deal with on Venus’ surface area chemistry, geology, and history

.

The concept is to utilize a self-governing, drifting power generator to gather solar power near the top of Venus’ thick environment

.

The top of the Venus environment inbound solar radiation averages about 2636 watts per square meter, whereas at the top of Earth’s environment, the solar constant has to do with 1367 watts per square-meter, Erik Brandon, a NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) power technologist who’s leading the research study, informed me.

Once the climatic collector had actually complemented its batteries, it would likely transfer power through microwave (or potentially in the radio spectrum) from onboard high-temperature batteries to high-temperature batteries on the lander.

The transmitted energy, states Brandon, would be transformed to direct present electrical power on the lander through a correcting antenna or “rectenna” built from appropriate high-temperature products and utilizing high-temperature silicon carbide diodes. Therefore, the lander needs to have the ability to continuously extend its running life. Or a minimum of for longer than the previous Soviet Union’s 1970 s’ – period Venera landers, which never ever even lasted 2 hours on the Venusian surface area.

Once the lander’s batteries were charged, the solar energy gathering spacecraft would re-ascend back up to the upper reaches of Venus’ environment to charge its own batteries as soon as again.

Brandon states the greatest obstacle is most likely to be attaining enough control with the gathering car to effectively navigate the Venus environment in between charging at greater elevations and after that returning to the lander website. The gathering balloon car will then need to keep control while beaming its power to the lander.

However this continuous procedure of gathering and charging solar power for the lander would continue as long as the lander’s parts and electronic devices endured Venus’ extreme environment.

Brandon states in concept this lander/floating-charger mix might likewise work to keep a Venusian rover powered up. The drifting balloon platform might likewise function as an interactions relay in between Earth and the lander. And, in theory, it might continue to operate as a secondary science objective even after the lander had actually stopped to operate.

However can the lander’s electronic devices make it through the surface area heat and pressures?

We plan to utilize advances in high-temperature electronic devices (such as silicon carbide gadgets) and product packaging to figure out if we can develop an end-to-end power system, states Brandon.

This stage one research study will respond to concerns such as what elevations would the gathering spacecraft need to be? For how long would the lander have the ability to run a single upload of brand-new power? And what would the lander’s surface area life be upon very first landing, without being charged?

The preliminary objective is to guarantee it can keep up fully-charged batteries till the very first recharge occasion, states Brandon.

.

.

Map of Soviet-era landers on Venus.

Credit: Wikipedia

.

.

Why not merely utilize a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). That is, an electrical power system that produces energy from the natural decay of radioactive product?

“There are no RTGs that can make it through at Venus temperature levels and conditions,” stated Brandon. “Today, the focus at NASA is on establishing enhanced RTGs for low-temperature, vacuum environments in deep area.”

Where else might this tech be utilized in planetary expedition?

Brandon states the concept of such a power beamer may deal with low-temperature ocean worlds in the external planetary system. That’s where a repaired lander with enough power would turn the innovation on its head and beam power to a smaller sized probe. “The concept is that it permits you to extend your set source of power beyond the borders of the lander,” stated Brandon.

However Venus would ideally see some variation of this balloon-collecting and power-beaming innovation initially. And if Brandon’s present research study succeeds, a prospective 2nd round of financing provides an extra 2 years of research study.

The planetary science neighborhood aspires to proceed with Venus surface area expedition. The Venus expedition neighborhood want to see a working lander that would last for days a minimum of, states Brandon. Or a minimum of enough time to gather information and maybe carry out some easy tasting.

” [But] it is challenging to forecast the life time of an objective in such an extreme environment,” stated Brandon.

.