Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (Credit: Jonathan Sauder)
Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE)
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Amount: up to $500,000
Length of Study: 2 years
Extreme environments abound in the solar system and include the radiation around Jupiter, high surface temperatures on Mercury and Venus, and hot, high pressure environments occurring deep beneath any active planet’s surface.
Generally, the most environmentally sensitive components of a rover or spacecraft are the electronics, which will fail in heat, stop operating in extreme cold, or experience upsets when bombarded with radiation.
In this proposal, we explore a long duration in-situ extreme environment rover on the surface of Venus. The planet has a surface temperature hot enough to melt lead at 460°C, and a pressure high enough to crush the hull of a nuclear submarine at 90 bar.
The Soviets made a concerted effort to explore this extreme environment from the late 1960’s through the early 1980’s. Of their 14 attempted Venera/Vega landings, only 9 were successful, and even these robust craft only operated for 23 to 127 minutes before the electrical systems succumbed to the extreme environment.
Modern mission proposals do not fare much better. A ...