One Hell of a Road Trip
May 2, 2021 4:09 AM   Subscribe

The Radio We Could Send to Hell — Silicon carbide radio circuits can take the volcanic heat of Venus., IEEE Spectrum, 4/28/2021. Its average surface temperature is 464 °C, sulfuric acid droplets fill the atmosphere, and its surface pressure is ~90 times Earth’s. Venus is considered Earth’s planetary twin: their size and mass are very close, and perhaps it once had massive oceans (with life) like Earth. But what cataclysm caused Venus to lose its water? Scientists think Earth’s fate may be similar as our climate changes, but to gather more data new Venusian robotic landers and rovers are needed. Can we build them to survive and explore its hostile environment for months or years? We can.
posted by cenoxo (11 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Glad the article addressed what the circuit boards would look like cause that was my first question.
posted by Mitheral at 6:30 AM on May 2


The link in the article to the Venus environment chamber (aka the Glenn Extreme Environments Rig - GEER) was pretty neat. That’s an impressive experiment to have held up to so many thousands of hours of those conditions.

I love that they have a mini-GEER as well, though I kind of do wonder if the inspiration for it was “hmm a small metal vessel capable of handing extreme high pressure and heat, and some of the most noxious substances humans could be exposed to. Hey Instant Pot - hold my beer for a moment!”
posted by inflatablekiwi at 7:35 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I’ve previously mentioned how diamonds are a Venus IR camera’s best friend.
posted by zamboni at 8:53 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


That's a fantastic article. It tells it's story without pulling back from diving into the technical details; love it.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:53 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that article is REALLY good. Thanks for posting!
posted by inexorably_forward at 3:08 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


So I wondered even if it could handle the heat, would it be corrosive resistant... and then I pulled back said... this is an easily googled question... and it is! So yeah... this is kind of a super material. I don't know how they are managing to etch it and work with it, or what the process is used to build necessary components, but wow!

Awesome article.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:40 AM on May 3


Walking (creeping?) under the power of hot Venusian winds, a hybrid high temperature mechanical/electronic NASA JPL concept from 2017 is the Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE): “...a mechanically based robot that thrives in Venus' high temperatures, where electronics would quickly fail. Inspired by Strandbeests [*], this high temperature alloy rover extends science fiction "steampunk" to space exploration.

*Created by Dutch kinetic artist Theo Jansen.
posted by cenoxo at 8:06 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


"It's picking up nothing but yacht rock, sir."

"Success!"
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:19 PM on May 3


Would it make sense to use these to build a simple radio controlled rover, and keep the 'brains' (faster more powerful computer) in orbit? You'd also need a network of small satellites to relay stuff, but a second or two's delay might be better than a several minute delay from Earth, or the expense of trying to harden a powerful computer for Venus surface use.
posted by fings at 10:42 PM on May 3


Great article, cenoxo.
posted by doctornemo at 10:06 AM on May 4


More details and background about The Steampunk Rover Concept That Could Help Explore Venus — 50 years after the first spacecraft touched down on our super hot neighbor (and promptly died), NASA has a plan for a tougher mechanical lander., WIRED, Adam Mann, 12/15/2020:
...The idea for such a wild machine first came to Sauder around five years ago during a coffee break at JPL, when he and his colleagues sat around discussing novel planetary explorers, mechanical computers like Babbage’s Difference Engine, and the spindly, mobile Strandbeest creations of Dutch artist Theo Jansen. “We said: ‘What if you got rid of all the electronics? What if you made a steampunk mission?’” Sauder recalls....
Here are clockwork prototypes at room temperature and 460°C. Reality tempers imagination, but dreaming (NASA’s crowdsourced competition for Venusian rovers) can empower new realities.
posted by cenoxo at 7:48 AM on May 5


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