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Zephyr: A Landsailing Rover for VenusWith an average temperature of 450C and a corrosive atmosphere at a pressure of 90 bars, the surface of Venus is the most hostile environment of any planetary surface in the solar system. Exploring the surface of Venus would be an exciting goal, since Venus is a planet with significant scientific mysteries, and interesting geology and geophysics. Technology to operate at the environmental conditions of Venus is under development. A rover on the surface of Venus with capability comparable to the rovers that have been sent to Mars would push the limits of technology in high-temperature electronics, robotics, and robust systems. Such a rover would require the ability to traverse the landscape on extremely low power levels. We have analyzed an innovative concept for a planetary rover: a sail-propelled rover to explore the surface of Venus. Such a rover can be implemented with only two moving parts; the sail, and the steering. Although the surface wind speeds are low (under 1 m/s), at Venus atmospheric density even low wind speeds develop significant force. Under funding by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts office, a conceptual design for such a rover has been done. Total landed mass of the system is 265 kg, somewhat less than that of the MER rovers, with a 12 square meter rigid sail. The rover folds into a 3.6 meter aeroshell for entry into the Venus atmosphere and subsequent parachute landing on the surface. Conceptual designs for a set of hightemperature scientific instruments and a UHF communication system were done. The mission design lifetime is 50 days, allowing operation during the sunlit portion of one Venus day. Although some technology development is needed to bring the high-temperature electronics to operational readiness, the study showed that such a mobility approach is feasible, and no major difficulties are seen.

Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Landis, Geoffrey A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Oleson, Steven R.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Grantier, David
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
January 30, 2015
Publication Date
September 29, 2014
Subject Category
Space Sciences (General)
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: International Astronautical Congress
Location: Toronto
Country: Canada
Start Date: September 29, 2014
End Date: October 3, 2014
Sponsors: Canadian Aeronautics and Space Inst.
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 361426.07.03
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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