Hell on Earth: NASA’s Toxic Venus Test Chamber
Side Note: Looks like NASA engineers are working to build a formidable opponent for the understanding of Venus, global warming and green house gases all in one. Venus, a planet that was once like ours, but burned to a near crisp thanks in part to these effects caused by the gases. In this article, Wired examines a new technology being built to study spacecraft that would be able to handle conditions of the violent Venusian temperatures.
In a bare concrete room at NASA Glenn Research Center, pieces of a 12-ton toxic oven patiently wait to be assembled.
When engineers finish bolting the compact car-sized device together in May, it will scorch anything put in it at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, crush it under pressures nearly 100 times that of Earth’s and choke it with carbon dioxide, sulfuric acid and a cocktail of other noxious fumes.
The hellish conditions should emulate the surface of Venus (above), a planet baked of its water and suffocated by greenhouse gases. “Venus used to be like Earth. There’s a lot of lessons for us to learn from it,” said NASA Glenn engineer Rodger Dyson, leader of the Extreme Environment Test Chamber.
The problem with Venusian spacecraft is that they melt in an hour — two if they’re lucky. To know if next-generation landers or rovers could survive, engineers need a test chamber large enough to swallow their hardy robots. NASA’s chamber will be the first one of its kind.
“There’s no data to predict how long materials will survive on the surface,” Dyson said. “We don’t even know what physics and chemistry and mineralogy are occurring there.”