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!
Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles
23.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Less radiation in inner Van Allen belt than previously believed
21.03.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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