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NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts

Venus Landsailing Rover

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

NASA Glenn has developed electronics and low-power photovoltaics that will continue to function even at the Venus temperature of 450°C. So the fundamental elements of a rover for Venus are not beyond the bounds of physics: we could survive the furnace of Venus-- if we can build a low-power mobility system like a landsail.

The surface of Venus is the most hostile environment in the solar system, with a surface temperature hotter than an oven, and a high-pressure, corrosive atmosphere. It is significant that, although humans have sent rovers to Mars with operating lifetimes of eight years and counting, the most capable mission to the surface of Venus has been a stationary lander that survived for only two hours. Exploring the surface of Venus with a rover would be a "stretch" goal, which will push the limits of technology in high-temperature electronics, robotics, and robust systems.   In work to develop sensors to work inside of jet engines, NASA Glenn has developed electronics that will continue to function even at the Venus temperature of 450°C. These electronic components represent a breakthrough in technological capability for high temperatures. We have also tested solar cells up to Venus surface temperatures; although the power density produced is low (because of the high cloud levels and thick atmosphere), we can produce electrical power on the surface. So the fundamental elements of a rover for Venus are not beyond the bounds of physics: we could survive the furnace of Venus-- if we can come up with an innovative concept for a rover that can move on extremely low power levels.

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Technology Maturity (TRL)

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