In a world first, US-based space agency NASA is planning to explore the surface of Venus with an unmanned rover. NASA said in a statement: ”With a surface temperature in excess of 840 degrees Fahrenheit (480 C) and a surface pressure 90 times that of Earth, Venus can turn lead into a puddle and crush a nuclear-powered submarine with ease.
“While many missions have visited our sister planet, only about a dozen have made contact with the surface of Venus before quickly succumbing to the oppressive heat and pressure.”
NASA added in a statement on the challenge’s website: ”To assist AREE on its groundbreaking mission concept, JPL needs an equally groundbreaking obstacle avoidance sensor, one that does not rely on vulnerable electronic systems.
“For that reason, JPL is turning to the global community.”
The competition is actually open to all, even those who are not rocket scientists.
The space agency wrote: ”JPL is interested in all approaches, regardless of technical maturity.”
Why does NASA want to explore Venus?
Exploring and studying the surface of Venus could help humanity understand the planet’s evolution and could contribute to a better understanding of Earth’s climate
Jonathan Sauder, principal investigator for the Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments concept, believes Venus and Earth surprisingly share characteristics.
He said: “Earth and Venus are basically sibling planets, but Venus took a turn at one point and became inhospitable to life as we know it.”
Ryon Stewart, challenge coordinator for the NASA Tournament Lab, added: “This is an exciting opportunity for the public to design a component that could one day end up on another celestial body.
“NASA recognises good ideas can come from anywhere and that prize competitions are a great way to engage the public’s interest and ingenuity and make space exploration possible for everyone.”