May 09, 2005
Fly Venus

New Scientist is carrying this interesting article detailing what one group of scientists think a mobile probe to Venus should look like:

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.

Of course, NASA's famously tight budgets have no obvious room in them for such a project, but you have to start somewhere. I wonder if peanuts and prezels will be part of the cargo?

Posted by scott at May 09, 2005 09:35 AM

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