Balloons outfitted with innovative steering devices and robot probes could be the future of planetary exploration. Dr. Alexey Pankine, a fellow at the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), presented an analysis of balloon applications for planetary science at the World Space Congress in Houston, Texas last month. His study, entitled Directed Aerial Robot Explorers or DARE, is funded by NIAC.
At the center of the DARE concept are balloons that can float in planetary atmospheres for many days. Balloons have long been recognized as low-cost observational platforms and are routinely used in observations of the Earth’s atmosphere. In 1984, two balloons were successfully deployed in the atmosphere of Venus for a short mission. However, what has restrained the wider use of balloons in planetary exploration was the inability to control their paths in strong atmospheric winds. Attaching an engine to a balloon would convert it into an airship and make it too heavy, too power dependent and too expensive to send to another planet or high into the atmosphere.
Faced with this problem, Global Aerospace Corporation has proposed to use an innovative device called the StratoSail® that allows the user to control the path of a planetary balloon. The device is essentially a wing that hangs on a long tether (several kilometers) below the balloon. Strong winds and denser atmosphere at the wing altitude create a sideways lifting force that pulls the entire system across the winds.
Alexey A. Pankine | EurekAlert!
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A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
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A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
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Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
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Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
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23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy