Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

To conquer Venus, try a plane with a brain

Filed under

CRUSHING atmospheric pressures, fierce winds, baking temperatures and acidic clouds have quickly destroyed every probe or lander ever sent to Venus. So the prospect of emulating the spectacular success of NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity on Venus might seem bleak. But there is hope. Space scientists in the US believe a solar-powered aircraft could explore the atmosphere of the second rock from the sun, and carry a flying "brain" to control a toughened rover on the ground.

Writing in the latest edition of the journal Acta Astronautica (vol 56, p 750), a team led by Geoffrey Landis of NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio says that an autonomous solar-powered aircraft could cruise between different altitudes and locations in Venus's wild atmosphere, making measurements and radar-imaging the surface at 10 times the resolution possible with an orbiting craft. They say this would provide far better data than the Soviet and US probes of the 1970s and 1980s, which were only able to make atmospheric measurements for a short time as they descended to their doom in the planet's violent, corrosive winds.

But the planet's dense atmosphere is ideal for a flying craft. A wing's lift depends directly on the density of the atmosphere and the atmospheric pressure on Venus is about 90 times that of Earth. After being released by an orbiter, the craft's origami-like wings would unfurl from an "aeroshell" (see Graphic). Solar panels on the craft's surface could absorb large amounts of the intense solar energy, powering motors to allow the craft to fly continuously. And the planet's slow rotation, with one day and night on Venus taking 117 Earth days, means a solar flyer could stay on the daylight side indefinitely.

NASA is particularly interested in studying a fast-moving cloud band that stretches around the planet at an altitude of 50 to 75 kilometres. This band is an enigma. Amazingly, it spins 60 times faster than Venus itself, taking only four Earth days to circumnavigate the planet. "We really want to know how solar energy moves that upper atmosphere so very fast," Landis says. By cruising between the cloud base and cloud tops, where the temperature is a moderate 100 °C, a solar flyer could help scientists find out what makes that cloud band tick.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Android/Google: Pixel 2, Xiaomi Kernel Source, David Kleidermacher on Security

  • Google Pixel 2 Portrait Mode Tech Is Now Open Source
    The tech behind the portrait mode on Google Pixel 2  has been made open source by the company. For those who not familiar with it, one of the main draw to the algorithm in the Pixel 2’s camera app is excellent subject isolation without needing additional apparatus such as specialized lens or second camera.
  • Xiaomi releases Oreo kernel source code for the Mi A1
    Xiaomi promised that the Mi A1 would receive Oreo by the end of 2017, and the company hit a buzzer-beater by rolling out Android 8.0 to the Android One device on December 30th. But the kernel source code was nowhere to be found, a violation of the GNU General Public License, version 2 (GPLv2), and an affront to the development and enthusiast community. It's about two-and-a-half months late, but Xiaomi has finally released the Android 8.0 Oreo source code for the Mi A1.
  • Google Says Android Is as Secure as Apple's iOS and Wants You to Know That
    Google's Android security chief David Kleidermacher told CNET today that the Linux-based Android mobile operating system the company develops for a wide range of devices is now as secure as Apple's iOS. Google recently published its "Android Security 2017 Year In Review" report where the company talks about how Android security has matured in the last few years and how it fights to find new ways to protect Android users from malware and all the other nasty stuff you obviously don't want to have on your mobile phone or tablet.

If you owned a 'fat' PlayStation 3 you could be entitled to $65 from Sony because of Linux option

Cast your mind back to when Sony released the original PlayStation 3, and you may well remember claims that the console was also a "computer". The claims were such that Sony suggested that owners could install Linux -- which, technically speaking, they could. However, installing Linux on a PS3 also posed something of a security issue, and Sony backtracked on the "Other OS" feature, killing it will a firmware update. Unsurprisingly, a lawsuit followed, and the result of this is that you could in line for a pay-out. Read more

today's leftovers

  • Zorin OS 12.3 Linux Distro Released: Download The Perfect Windows Replacement
    While listing out the best distros for a Linux beginner, the ease of use and installation are the most critical factors. Such qualities make distros like Linux Mint, Ubuntu, and Zorin OS the most recommended options. In case you’re also concerned about your privacy and security, a shift to the world of Linux becomes a more obvious option. Calling itself a replacement for Windows and macOS, Zorin OS has been established as a beginner-friendly option that offers a smooth ride while making the transition. The latest Zorin OS 12.3 release works to strengthen the basics of the operating system and polishes the whole experience.
  • Ramblings about long ago and far away
    I had originally run MCC (Manchester Computer Center Interim Linux) in college but when I moved it was easier to find a box of floppies with SLS so I had installed that on the 486. I would then download software source code from the internet and rebuild it for my own use using all the extra flags I could find in GCC to make my 20Mhz system seem faster. I instead learned that most of the options didn't do anything on i386 Linux at the time and most of my reports about it were probably met by eye-rolls with the people at Cygnus. My supposed goal was to try and set up a MUD so I could code up a text based virtual reality. Or to get a war game called Conquer working on Linux. Or maybe get xTrek working on my system. [I think I mostly was trying to become a game developer by just building stuff versus actually coding stuff. I cave-man debugged a lot of things using stuff I had learned in FORTRAN but it wasn't actually making new things.]
  • EzeeLinux Show 18.13 | Running Linux On Junk
    A talk about the advantages of running Linux on junk hardware.
  • Best 50 HD Wallpapers for Ubuntu
    Wallpapers are useful in many ways depending on the visual it contains for example if there is a motivational quote on it, it helps to motivate you. The images are the best type of wallpaper because they have an impact on the mind of a human being. So if you are a working professional and have to work continuously on a computer then your desktop cab be a source of inspiration and happiness. So today we are going to share 50 best HD Wallpapers for your Ubuntu which will keep your desktop fresh.
  • Ubuntu Tried Adding Synaptics Support Back To GNOME's Mutter
    GNOME developers previously dropped support for Synaptics and other input drivers from Mutter in favor of the universal libinput stack that is also Wayland-friendly. Canonical developers tried to get Synaptics support on X11 added back into Mutter but it looks clear now that was rejected. Canonical's Will Cooke reported in this week's Ubuntu happenings that they were trying to add upstream support for Synaptics to Mutter, complementing the libinput support. While it's great Canonical trying to contribute upstream to GNOME, Synaptics support was previously dropped as being a maintenance burden and with libinput support getting into rather good shape.
  • Long live Release Engineering
    y involvement in Fedora goes back to late 2003 early 2004 somewhere as a packager for I started by getting a few packages in to scratch some of my itches and I saw it as a way to give back to the greater open source community. Around FC3 somewhere I stepped up to help in infrastructure to rebuild the builders in plague, the build system we used before koji and that we used for EPEL(Something that I helped form) for awhile until we got external repo support in koji. I was involved in the implementation of koji in Fedora, I joined OLPC as a build and release engineer, where I oversaw a move of the OS they shipped from FC6 to F8, and laid a foundation for the move to F9. I left OLPC when Red Hat opensourced RHN Satellite as “spacewalk project” I joined Red Hat as the release engineer for both, after a brief period there was some reorganisation in engineering that resulted in me handing off the release engineering tasks to someone closer the the engineers working on the code. As a result I worked on Fedora full time helping Jesse Keating. When he decided to work on the internal migration from CVS to git I took over as the lead. [...] Recently I have accepted a Job offer to become the manager of a different team inside of Red Hat.

Linux 4.17 Spring Cleaning To Drop Some Old CPU Architectures and Recent Torvalds Interview

  • Linux 4.17 Spring Cleaning To Drop Some Old CPU Architectures
    Longtime Linux kernel developer Arnd Bergmann is working to drop a number of old and obsolete CPU architectures from the next kernel cycle, Linux 4.17. The obsolete CPU architectures set to be removed include Blackfin, CRIS, FR-V, M32R, MN10300, META (Metag), and TILE. Managing to escape its death sentence is the Unicore32 architecture with its port maintainer claiming it's still actively being used and maintained.
  • [Older] Linus Torvalds Interview by Kristaps

    Interviewer: we all know who Linus is, but not many people know he’s also a proficient diver. Why don’t we start at the beginning: where you first started diving, and when you started to take diving seriously.  

    Actually, it was related to open source, in some way. [...]