NASA New Clockwork-Prototype Rover to Study Venus’ Extreme Environment

It seems, the US-based space agency, NASA is planning to give its long-term scheduling to explore Venus a boost as in one of its recent announcement, the firm has declared about the development of a new Clockwork-inspired rover for tackling the extreme environment of Venus. The Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) program, which was first proposed by Jonathan Sauder, a mechatronics engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in 2015, is currently in the developmental stage and once done, it will be employed for tackling the atmospheric force on the surface of Venus which can squash most submarines as well as the extreme temperature which is hot enough to melt the lead.

A concept of the clockwork rover is completely inspired by clockwork computers as well as the World War I tanks. For now, the design is being examined by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California of NASA and is expected to take wings to Venus in the coming years. Titled as “Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE)”, the program is funded for examination and study by the NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program which offers small scholarships to emerging engineers to develop early stage space technologies.

Venus’ atmospheric pressure is capable of crushing most submarines, and its surface temperature is hot enough to melt any lead. Electronics are most likely to melt on Venus’ surface if they are not decomposed by the high quality of sulfur in the climate itself. “With such features, Venus is too complex to be explored in comparison to Mars and hence the rover it required, also need to be ultra-advanced”, said the leader of the mission, Jonathan Sauder.

Up to now, no rovers and Landers were capable of surviving on the surface of Venus for more than a few hours. The Russian Vega and Venera Landers were the last human-made probes to visit Venus’ surface and melted within few hours of landing. For tackling the extreme environment of the planet, AREE will be integrated with a clockwork computer on board, which is similar Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, alongside an Antikythera mechanism – an unexplained object which is widely supposed to be the earliest known automatic computer. With the help of these two instruments, AREE will handle the atmospheric pressure and temperature of the planet.

It means, unlike on Mars, where Landers and Rovers are used to be nuanced and delicate, and are equipped with a host of high-tech instruments, a rover to Venus needs to be a Mad Max for conducting an interplanetary expedition and hence the clockwork rover which NASA has been testing now, seems to be ideal. Regarding design, the Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) will have asymmetrical treads which are intended to keep the rover functioning for as long as possible. Moreover, there will also be a wind turbine, installed within the rover which will slip the water from the air and will be operated as the power source.

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