NASA Venus Rover Is Inspired By Clockwork Computers And World War Tanks

Posted: Sep 1 2017, 1:46am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

NASA Venus Rover is Inspired by Clockwork Computers and World War Tanks
AREE, a clockwork rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The clockwork rover could be the perfect tool to withstand extremely harsh conditions on Venus

Though Venus is similar to Earth in size and structure, its surface is most hostile in our solar system. With extremely dense atmosphere and potent heat-trapping ability, Venus has temperatures hot enough to melt lead. The winds on Venus are also powerful which circle the entire planet in just a matter of days due to intense pressures. Dealing with these extreme conditions is a significant challenge when it comes to exploring Venus with a rover.

A mechanism similar to that of clock could be the the key for unlocking the secrets for some of the most extreme environments. The new design concept inspired by clockwork computers and World War I tanks is being explored at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"Venus is too inhospitable for kind of complex control systems you have on a Mars rover. But with a fully mechanical rover, you might be able to survive as long as a year." Jonathan Sauder, a mechatronics engineer at JPL who proposed The Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) said in a statement.

NASA has long been trying to develop rover that can survive long enough on Venus surface and take useful measurements. With current technology, robotic rovers can only withstand Venus conditions for a very short period and will melt in high temperatures.

Soviet Venera and Vega landers and Pioneer are some of the probes that have successfully reached Venus and sent back a handful of images of the planet in the 1970s and 1980s. The most capable mission to the surface of Venus survived for only two hours.

"When you think of something as extreme as Venus, you want to think really out there," said Evan Hilgemann, a JPL engineer working on high temperature designs for AREE. "It's an environment we don't know much about beyond what we've seen in Soviet-era images."

Mechanical computers are driven by levers and gear rather than electronics. Without electronic components, researchers could drastically improve Venus rover design and increase its survivability on the planet’s surface. Exploring the surface of Venus with a rover would push the limits of technology.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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