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LEAVES: Lofted Environmental and Atmospheric Venus SensorsLEAVES (Lofted Environmental Atmospheric Venus Sensors) is a design exercise with the goal of dramatically decreasing the cost of obtaining prioritized chemical and physical data in planetary atmospheres. Through the application of a swarm approach this concept parallelizes atmospheric exploration, with geographic coverage far exceeding what is possible with conventional monolithic platforms or sondes. Each unit in the swarm is exceptionally compact, with a powered payload mass of only a few tens of grams and a high-drag, semi-rigid structure that acts to slow each probe as it descends through the atmosphere. This structural design can collapse into a planar form to allow for efficient stowage prior to arrival at the target body. With a total per-unit mass of only 120 g, a fleet of 100 (or more) units can be very reasonably accommodated on a carrier spacecraft.Science operations, which begin when the LEAVES probes reach an altitude of 100 km, are targeted for the cloud-bearing region of Venus' atmosphere. During the roughly 9 hour, terminal velocity descent through the atmosphere, LEAVES collects data of the state and composition of the atmosphere in parallel across multiple units. These data would represent an unprecedented constraint on the distribution and concentration of targeted chemical species, and the detection of local and regional variations in both chemistry and physical properties.A novel and compelling result of this exercise was that the same optimization that produced a structure with an exceptionally low areal mass density (0.126 kg/m2) also resulted in a probe that can be deployed directly from an aerobraking orbit (~140 km at 5 km/s) without the need for aeroshell protection. This translates to a tremendous mass savings and gives LEAVES the flexibility to be carried as a secondary payload aboard either a descending surface probe or an orbital radar mapper. Because such missions are under active development or have already been proposed (but not flown), we infer that LEAVES is well positioned as a technology
Document ID
Document Type
Balcerski, Jeffrey (Ohio Aerospace Inst. Cleveland, OH, United States)
Hunter, Gary (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Makel, Darby (Makel Engineering, Inc. Sacramento, CA, United States)
Colozza, Anthony (Vantage Partners, LLC Brook Park, OH, United States)
Zborowski, Maciej (Vantage Partners, LLC Brook Park, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
April 17, 2019
Publication Date
April 4, 2019
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Portions of document may include copyright protected material.
Environmental Sensors
Atmospheric Exploration

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