the American Northrop Grumman is working on a drone out of the ordinary. The VAMP (for Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform) is naked gliders designed for measurements in the Venusian atmosphere. Powered by solar energy, this impressive 55 m wingspan drone and 20 m in length must fly between 50 and 68 km of altitude. Unable to go lower in the ultra-massive atmosphere of Venus, the drone must tirelessly fly to pass his measures to the spacecraft in orbit.
VAMP, a drone capable of flying and floating for months in the Venusian atmosphere
This is still only a model foam in the laboratories of the aerospace giant, but the VAMP will be a rather imposing drone. Equipped with 2 electric motors, this drone of 900 kg embark approximately 50 kg of measuring equipment to analyze the unique atmosphere of Venus. To resist solar radiation and sulfuric acid in suspension in the Venusian air, drone is covered with Teflon allowing it to withstand the temperatures of the atmosphere Venusian, but also the phase of reentry into the atmosphere. The flying wing formula will allow, according to Northrop Grumman engineers, to dispense an additional thermal shield.
Once in the Venusian atmosphere, the drone will be able to count on its solar panels provide a power of 8 kW. night, when its battery is discharged, the drone goes down to low altitude between 52 and 54 km to just float on this “low” State of boiling atmosphere. Engineers believe that the drone could thus operate in this way for several months or even several years, making the VAMP the first “atmospheric rover”.
If NASA retains the principle of a mission to Venus in the context of its New Frontiers program, VAMP could soar to its target in 2021.
Source: “Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform (VAMP)”, Northrop Grumman