Jan. 10th, 2012

steorra: Jupiter's moon Europa (europa)
[personal profile] steorra
Hell on Earth: NASA’s Toxic Venus Test Chamber

Making a spacecraft to land on Venus (as opposed to orbit it) is really difficult, because the environment on Venus is so extreme. The surface temperature is extremely hot (hot enough to melt lead), the atmospheric pressure is 90 times that on earth, and the atmosphere contains corrosive gases. Because of this, none of the few spacecraft that have successfully landed on Venus so far have been active for more than a few hours.

So NASA is making a Venus environment simulation oven to do testing for possible future missions to Venus, so that they can determine what will or won't last without sending it to the planet and then finding it doesn't work very well.

The chamber could also be used for simulating some other non-Earth environments, such as Jupiter's outer atmosphere.

On an unrelated note, yesterday (at least from my time zone), January 9th, was the anniversary of the death in 1848 of astronomer Caroline Lucretia Herschel. She "found three nebulae and eight comets. In 1787, King George III gave Caroline a salary of 50 pounds per year as assistant to [her brother] William. She published the Index to Flamsteed's Observations of the Fixed Stars and a list of his mistakes in 1797." Caroline's brother William Herschel discovered Uranus.

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