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Solar Airplane Concept Developed for Venus ExplorationAn airplane is the ideal vehicle for gathering atmospheric data over a wide range of locations and altitudes, while having the freedom to maneuver to regions of scientific interest. Solar energy is available in abundance on Venus. Venus has an exoatmospheric solar flux of 2600 W/m2, compared with Earth's 1370 W/m2. The solar intensity is 20 to 50 percent of the exoatmospheric intensity at the bottom of the cloud layer, and it increases to nearly 95 percent of the exoatmospheric intensity at 65 km. At these altitudes, the temperature of the atmosphere is moderate, in the range of 0 to 100 degrees Celsius, depending on the altitude. A Venus exploration aircraft, sized to fit in a small aeroshell for a "Discovery" class scientific mission, has been designed and analyzed at the NASA Glenn Research Center. For an exploratory aircraft to remain continually illuminated by sunlight, it would have to be capable of sustained flight at or above the wind speed, about 95 m/sec at the cloud-top level. The analysis concluded that, at typical flight altitudes above the cloud layer (65 to 75 km above the surface), a small aircraft powered by solar energy could fly continuously in the atmosphere of Venus. At this altitude, the atmospheric pressure is similar to pressure at terrestrial flight altitudes.
Document ID
20050192264
Document Type
Other
Authors
Landis, Geoffrey A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Research and Technology 2003
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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