Researchers at Buffalo University are working on a conceptual design that will see a morphing plane explore the sky above Venus, including its elusive "dark side."
It's called BREEZE, or bio-inspired beam for extreme environments and area studies. Like a river moving through water with its pectoral fins, this morphing probe will flap its wings during flight, holding at an altitude approaching 50 kilometers (31 miles). Equipped with an array of tools and driven along with the planet's powerful winds, BREEZE will blow atmospheric gases, search for volcanic activity, and even explore the so-called Nar. The dark side of Venus, according to a press release from university release .
At least, this is the vision as outlined by researchers at the Crashworthiness Laboratory for Aerospace Structures and Hybrids (CRASH) . BREEZE is currently one of 1
A Venus exploration aircraft makes a lot of sense. Designing a rover seems almost impossible, with surface temperatures in excess of 470 degrees Celsius (880 degrees Fahrenheit). Moreover, some of the most interesting things on this planet are in the atmosphere, including a massive bow-like structure which extends nearly 10 thousands of kilometers (6, 20 0 miles)
Because BREEZE has inflatable components, it can be packed tightly into a larger input module and then housed in the atmosphere of Venus, Bayandor, director of the CRASH laboratory and associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, says in an email to Gizmodo. including the thrust, stability, lift and smoothness of the aircraft.
BREEZE is designed to take advantage of strong winds in the stormy upper atmosphere of Venus the probe must be able to travel around the planet once every four to six days as it moves below the main cloud . The solar panels would allow the probe to reload its instruments, including gas sampling devices, weather tracking, and surface volcanic activity. Ideally, BREEZE will perform mass and gamma spectroscopy, perform magnetic field traces, and perform ultraviolet measurements, according to Bayandor.
BREEZE "is being developed to sample atmospheres at and above 50 km altitude," Bayadore says, but the system will "pull lower altitudes toward the end of its mission." The CRASH team envisages several BREEZE aircraft at the same time to cast a large scientific network and collect redundant data for further verification.
A key advantage of the BREEZE design is that it must be able to move in the zonal winds toward the dark side of the planet, while the balloons, for example, would simply reach the polar regions, according to researchers . Venus is not closed like the moon in which a hemisphere eternally collides with the Earth but has a painfully slow rotation speed. One day of Venus lasts 243 Earth days, which means that much of the planet is in darkness for long periods of time. Bayandor and his colleagues would very much like to know what is happening with the atmosphere of Venus this long night.
In terms of potential risks, BREEZE will have to face the corrosive atmosphere of Venus (which contains sulfuric acid) strong winds reaching over 360 kilometers per hour (224 miles per hour) and c lifting difficulties, among other things. Ultimately, however, Bayadore said that "this particular mission will be relatively low to moderate risk with high rewards."
BREEZE sounds like an exciting concept and it's time to pay some more attention to this intriguing planet. NASA plans to make its decision on the future of this program over the next few months, and we will be watching closely.