Last modified on February 14th, 2017 at 8:49 am

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NASA Solves Venus Lander Technology Dilemma

New NASA circuit and chip technology can withstand Longer Periods in hellish Venus conditions – Journal AIP Advances publishes research results

NASA Solves Venus Lander Technology Dilemma

Last updated on February 14th, 2017 at 08:49 am

NASA scientists and researchers have made a breakthrough in technology that prolongs the life of electronic circuitry in the harshest of conditions making it possible for future Venus-mission electronics to survive for up to 521 hours on the hell-like conditions of the second closest planet to the Sun.

The team of researchers in a recent demonstration showed successfully that the breakthrough technology would enable circuitry and chips to survive for much longer periods of time (up to 521 hours) in simulated Venus-like conditions. This effectively means that future Venus Landers will be able to withstand the extremely harsh conditions of the planet, potentially, 100 times longer than was possible with the prevailing technology.

“We demonstrated vastly longer electrical operation with chips directly exposed — no cooling and no protective chip packaging — to a high-fidelity physical and chemical reproduction of Venus’ surface atmosphere,” Phil Neudeck, a lead electronics engineer on the project, said in a statement. “And both integrated circuits still worked after the end of the test.”

The technology makes prolonged Venus missions possible and opens the door for exploration of other planets and potential Earth applications, as well.

“This work not only enables the potential for new science in extended Venus surface and other planetary exploration, but it also has potentially significant impact on a range of Earth relevant applications, such as in aircraft engines to enable new capabilities, improve operations, and reduce emissions,” said Gary Hunter, principal investigator for Venus surface electronics development.

The Glenn Research Center detailed findings were published in the journal AIP Advances on February 8, 2017, under the heading, Prolonged silicon carbide integrated circuit operation in Venus surface atmospheric conditions

About Planet Venus

The planet Venus is often referred to as Earth’s sister planet because of similarities between the two Solar System neighbors such as proximity to the Sun, size, mass and bulk composition and that’s where the likeness ends and radical dissimilarities begin.

Venus is named after the mythological Roman goddess of beauty, love, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity and victory. Venus has the densest atmosphere of the four terrestrial planets in the Solar System – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, their proximity to the Sun in that order.

The Venus atmosphere contains over 96 percent carbon-dioxide and has 92 times the surface atmospheric pressure Earth has. To put it another way, it is the kind of pressure one would feel at an underwater depth of 3000 feet on Earth.

It is the hottest planet, by a long margin, in the Solar System with an average surface temperature of 863° Fahrenheit (462° C) adding to the hostile conditions already mentioned. Metaphorically, it is an infernal hell.

After the Moon it is the second brightest heavenly object in the night sky and has a rotation time longer than it takes to complete one revolution around the Sun – it takes 243 days to complete a rotation as compared to the 224.7 Earth-days orbital time around the Sun. Simply put, a day on Venus is longer than its year. Venus does not have a natural satellite.

One wonders why a planet which is often compared to hell was ever given the name of a goddess that symbolized such great attributes of love and beauty, and more.

We can now well comprehend the hellish harshness NASA’s Venus landers can be exposed to and should appreciate the groundbreaking achievement by NASA scientists at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

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