NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, as part of a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts grant, is conducting a public competition to develop an obstacle avoidance sensor for a possible future rover being developed by the Venus Exploration Agency. The main task of the device will be to study the terrain of an infernal planet, which for a long time the Soviet and American predecessors of the all-terrain vehicle could not properly make. Hoping to draw public attention to the problem, NASA researchers hope to create a powerful and technologically advanced device that can survive even in the harsh conditions of the second planet from the Sun.
New Expedition to Venus
It’s unlikely that Venus may seem like a pleasant place to live for you: at a surface temperature of over 350 degrees Celsius and atmospheric pressure 90 times higher than Earth’s pressure, Venus can turn lead into a puddle and even easily crush a nuclear submarine. Despite the fact that a large number of missions have already visited our space neighbor, only about a dozen of them have come into contact with the surface of Venus before they die under the most severe pressure of the planet. The last spacecraft to touch the surface of the planet was the Soviet Vega-2, which successfully landed on Venus in 1985. Although the mission of the device is considered successful, the device was able to “live” in the hellish climate of our space neighbor only about an hour, giving scientists an occasion to think about creating a more technological device.
Jonathan Sauder, NASA's senior mechatronics engineer, claims that Earth and Venus were once truly fraternal planets with similar climatic characteristics. The creation of a tropical paradise on the second planet from the Sun was prevented by a single event, forcing neighboring planets to follow radically different development paths. Be that as it may, the researcher is confident that studying various geological units on the surface of Venus could help us understand the evolution of the planet, thereby contributing to a better understanding of the Earth’s climate.
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Driven by the wind, NASA's new rover will be able to spend months of work, not minutes, exploring the landscape of Venus. As the rover begins to advance in its research, it will be necessary for it to be able to detect and avoid obstacles in its path. For example, rocks, crevices and steep slopes can interfere with scientific work, and in order to prevent a number of difficulties during the operation of the future device, NASA decided to resort to outside assistance in developing a new type of sensor that can work even at extremely high temperatures. The sensor that won the competition will be included in the rover concept and could potentially become an active part of the mechanism by which humanity learns about the details of the relief of Venus.
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Participants will have the opportunity to win a prize for first place in the amount of $ 15,000. It is also known that the second place will bring the creator of a successful project $ 10,000, and the third – $ 5,000. In order to personally participate in the competition and get more information about the offer, you can visit the official website of the company.