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Venus Plane Pushed by NG for Next NASA Next Frontiers Mission

Flyaway

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Northrop Grumman is developing an inflatable, propeller-powered aircraft for a years-long cruise in the sulfurous skies of Venus and is gearing up to enter the concept in NASA’s next New Frontiers planetary science competition.

That Northrop believes its Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform, or VAMP, could be ready to compete for about $1 billion in NASA funding as soon as Oct. 1 is a testament to the company’s confidence in the concept, which despite arousing the intrigue of some Venus scientists is technically immature and likely to face competition from finalists of NASA’s last New Frontiers contest.

- See more at: http://spacenews.com/venus-plane-possible-for-next-nasa-planetary-mission/#sthash.p1gjNiuJ.dpuf
 

blackstar

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Here is an artist impression of the plane.

There have been a number of planetary plane ideas over the years. There was one for a Mars flyer about a decade ago. A few years ago there was one for a Titan airplane. I think that the Mars flyer got more work done on it than the others. The problem was that it was being proposed for a program that did not allow high technical or programmatic risk, so it was not going to win. For NASA competed programs like Discovery and New Frontiers they do not allow new tech development--you have to be ready to go with your design if they approve you.

The Titan plane was rather cool, but I think it was a very immature proposal.
 

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blackstar

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A balloon would be simpler.

Presumably they want control so that they can send it to specific locations to take measurements. But that raises the question of whether doing that is so important that it is worth the cost and risk. If you can collect 80% of the data for half the price of an airplane isn't that a better solution?
 

Dragon029

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Realistically, this aircraft is almost certainly going to be inflated and buoyant to some altitude; I just see this as being an airship / balloon with a more streamline / efficient shape for maneuvering.
 

Sundog

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bigvlada said:
Why plane? Why not a (hybrid) airship?


My understanding is that there is a certain amount of ground they wish to cover in a certain amount of time and the airship option wouldn't meet that requirement.
 

sienar

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Perhaps they want to keep it on the day side at all times?


Maybe the weight savings from not having a bunch of batteries is worth the added complexity.
 

Flyaway

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Semibouyant Aircraft Could Explore Venus’s Upper Atmosphere

A different way to enter a planet’s atmosphere is behind Northrop Grumman’s concept for a flying “rover” able to coast through the clouds of Venus for up to a year collecting atmospheric data. A semibuoyant flying wing, the proposed Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform (VAMP) is the first in a possible family of vehicles exploiting the lifting entry/atmospheric flight (LEAF) concept. VAMP is being explored as a potential candidate for a future NASA ...

Unfortunately the rest of the article is behind a paywall.

http://m.aviationweek.com/space/semibouyant-aircraft-could-explore-venus-s-upper-atmosphere
 

Arjen

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The entire article can be read if you register - which is free.
 

Flyaway

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Be kind of ironic after we’ve spent so much time and effort on Mars when it could be we such have been looking at Venus instead.

In a paper published online today (March 30, 2018) in the journal Astrobiology, an international team of researchers led by planetary scientist Sanjay Limaye of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center lays out a case for the atmosphere of Venus as a possible niche for extraterrestrial microbial life.

“Venus has had plenty of time to evolve life on its own,” explains Limaye, noting that some models suggest Venus once had a habitable climate with liquid water on its surface for as long as two billion years. “That’s much longer than is believed to have occurred on Mars.”

Provides support for the VAMP mission concept.

One possibility for sampling the clouds of Venus, says Limaye, is on the drawing board: VAMP or Venus Aerial Mobil Platform, a craft that flies like a plane but floats like a blimp and could stay aloft in the planet’s cloud layer for up to a year gathering data and samples.

Such a platform could include instruments like Raman LIDAR, meteorological and chemical sensors, and spectrometers, says Limaye. It could also carry a type of microscope capable of identifying living microorganisms.

“To really know, we need to go there and sample the clouds,” says Mogul. “Venus could be an exciting new chapter in astrobiology exploration.”

https://www.ssec.wisc.edu/news/articles/10644
 

Antonio

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Old 60's SF stories imagined a planet populated with dinosaurs, may the real inhabitant of Venus is closer to modern SF "protomolecule" ;)
 

Michel Van

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blackstar said:
A balloon would be simpler.

Presumably they want control so that they can send it to specific locations to take measurements. But that raises the question of whether doing that is so important that it is worth the cost and risk. If you can collect 80% of the data for half the price of an airplane isn't that a better solution?

The French CNES try that in 1985 as secondary payload in VeGa 1/2
they travel for 2 days in 50 km hight VeGa 1 on distance of 11,600 km and VeGa 2 for 11,100 km
the batteries on Ballon probe had power for 46 hours,
survival of Teflon ballon filled with helium was given 48 hours until rupture do overheating on day site of Venus.
 

blackstar

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Michel Van said:
blackstar said:
A balloon would be simpler.

Presumably they want control so that they can send it to specific locations to take measurements. But that raises the question of whether doing that is so important that it is worth the cost and risk. If you can collect 80% of the data for half the price of an airplane isn't that a better solution?

The French CNES try that in 1985 as secondary payload in VeGa 1/2
they travel for 2 days in 50 km hight VeGa 1 on distance of 11,600 km and VeGa 2 for 11,100 km
the batteries on Ballon probe had power for 46 hours,
survival of Teflon ballon filled with helium was given 48 hours until rupture do overheating on day site of Venus.

There are some newer proposals for balloons with much longer lifetimes. Although balloons themselves are relatively simple, once you add in the instruments, comm, and the entry system, they start to cost more.
 

Rhinocrates

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A relevant interview on The Space Show:

https://thespaceshow.com/show/15-jul-2018/broadcast-3152-julian-nott
 

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