BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Have you ever wondered why we don’t send any rovers to explore Venus, since there have been so many exploring our other neighboring planet, Mars? The harsh conditions on Venus may destroy any robotic explorer, but NASA are one step closer to the dream of exploring Venus.
The surface of Venus is so caustic and it hosts temperatures of 872 degrees Fahrenheit on average, which allow no electronic device to escape burning. Also, the incredibly high atmospheric pressures would make them collapse. Venus has 90 times the atmospheric pressure on Earth, which is roughly the equivalent of being 3,000 feet underwater.
However, NASA are now closer than ever to creating the first robot to resist the tough Venusian atmospheric conditions. Researchers at Glenn Research Center succeeded in building a computer chip that was able to survive Venus-like conditions for a record of 521 hours. That means almost 22 days.
However, the experiment had to be stopped not because the chip could not withhold the harsh conditions anymore, but because the chamber that simulated Venusian conditions (Glenn Extreme Environments Rig – GEER) had to be shut down because it kept running incessantly for more than three weeks.
The record for resisting destruction on the atmosphere of Venus is held by a Soviet spacecraft, Venera 13. It landed on Venus in 1982 and was able to transmit information back to Earth for 127 minutes. For the success of the mission, the USSR sealed the electronics in hermetic chambers that they had cooled to 14 degrees Fahrenheit before sending them to Venus. Even so, they could not resist for more than two hours.
A chip made of silicon can usually withstand 480 degrees Fahrenheit before the semiconductors stop acting as resistors. Thus, NASA made semiconductors of silicon carbide (SiC) which were known to resist at higher temperatures and linked them with special wires and they obtained the chip that needed no external protection.
Of course, they are still many challenges to overcome until NASA is able to build an entire robotic explorer than can withstand the Venusian condition and until they can discover the suitable technology that would allow for the extraction of soil for analysis. However, they are working on it, and might not be long until we succeed in sending explorers to a second alien world.
Image Source: Pixabay