10 years ago

NASA plans to use sail-powered rover 'Zephyr' to explore Venus

Originally published on August 29, 2013

NASA is considering sending a rover craft to explore Venus, one of the most hostile environments in the solar system.

Venus is surrounded by a thick gaseous layer that consists mostly of carbon dioxide.

It's hotter than Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, with temperatures that can reach up to 450 degrees Celsius.

The Venus Landsailing Rover, also nicknamed Zephyr, is designed to resist Venus' hostile environment.

After entering the Venusian atmosphere Zephyr would experience maximum deceleration and using a pilot chute and a heat shield it would begin its descent.

It would then deploy a landing parachute and three wheels and switch to high power mode.

Zephyr would only need two moving parts, one for setting its sail and one for the steering position.

After landing on Venus and releasing the parachute, the rover would spend most of its time on Venus doing stationary analysis on the ground before deploying its sail and drift slowly to a new spot.

It would not require a power source, but instead use Venus' heat and high winds.

According to reports, while the wind speeds in Venus are low, the pressure, which is 92 times that of Earth, make it a powerful force.

According to NASA's Geoffrey Landis, other ideas for exploring Venus besides Zephyr include solar powered airplanes and floating cities.


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