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

Red Hat and Fedora

Android Leftovers

CUPS 2.2.3 Adds Support for PPD Finishing Keywords, IPP Everywhere Improvements

CUPS 2.2.3 is the third point release to the stable 2.2 series of the project, bringing a bunch of IPP Everywhere improvements, such as support for all print qualities and media types that a printer supports, in the print queues. Additionally, it makes IPP Everywhere finishings support work correctly with common command-line and UI (User Interface) options, and updates the PPD generator to return helpful error messages. Support for PostScript Printer Description (PPD) finishing keywords was also introduced in this release. Read more

Pale Moon A Lightweight, Firefox Based And Cross Platform Web Browser

​Using browsers on a daily basis is nothing new for all us. We all have our favorite type of browsers like Chrome, Opera, Aurora and more. While as being open source mine and many Linux geek favorite browser is Mozilla Firefox. Today I will discuss one of awesome browser based on firefox named Pale Moon. Read