NASA’s goal to explore the atmosphere, surface, and interior structure of Venus can be accomplished through the use of an aerial vehicle specifically designed by Paragon and Thin Red line Aerospace (TRLA) to carry scientific payloads known as the Mechanical-compression Aerobot for extended Range Venus ExpLoration (MARVEL). MARVEL is an autonomous robotic balloon vehicle capable of exercising trajectory and/or altitude control in the atmosphere of Venus. and/or altitude control in the atmosphere of Venus.
Exploring the atmosphere and surface of Venus presents the issue of enduring the environmental extremes. The surface of Venus is extremely hot and contains gaseous components not favorable to many materials. The challenge lies largely in finding a means to protect and prolong time in which different sensors can be operate in the harsh thermal environment and record data. As most of the interest lies closer to the surface, below mid-level cloud cover the ability to more closely approach the surface increases the data fidelity and quality captured by the sensors. MARVEL accomplishes the goal of all Venus exploration by combining advanced material configurations with innovative thermal control configurations for the payload. This results in a specialty Venus Aerobot system that can reach and remain at a lower altitude for longer times in the atmosphere of Venus to capture more and higher quality data on Venus.The current state of the art (SOA) in Venus aerial vehicles has been designed to operate within the altitude range of 50 to 60 km. This innovation will 1 extend the operating range over 40 to 60 km, and integrate into a supporting aerial platform that will be able to operate on the sunlit side of Venus and be able to transit the night side and survive several circumnavigations around the planet.
The proposed Mechanical-compression Aerobot will have immediate application at Venus and Titan. In particular, supporting access to below Venus’ cloud layer for scientific payloads for missions such as the Venus Corona and Tessera Explorer (VeCaTEx) and investigating phosphine in Venus’ atmosphere and realizing 2020 Venus Flagship Mission Report and 2018 Venus Aerial Platforms Study report key science investigations.
Two aspects of the proposed deployment/activation and gas supply/control system would lend themselves to direct commercialization in terrestrial applications. Robust aerial deployment will enable MC-ACB to be employed for military applications requiring tactical aerial drops and aerial deployment for timely, accurate weather/hurricane forecasting.