Inside NASA's Venus machine

This chamber, currently under construction at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, will be able to reproduce the temperature, pressure, and chemical conditions on the surface of Venus. Scientists will use it to find materials and lander designs that can withstand the 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures on that planet.

In a story on the chamber for WIRED, Dave Mosher points out that a similar chamber already exists. The trouble is, it's too small to fit a life-size model of a Venusian lander. The new chamber will be big enough to test out equipment at the size it will be used. Better yet, the new chamber could also be used to replicate conditions on other moons and planets, as well.

Thanks to its thick walls, it can simulate all conditions experienced during a trip to Venus: launch, the cold vacuum of space and even atmospheric entry.

In the future, operators could simulate conditions found in Jupiter’s outer atmosphere, the Martian equator and even vents near volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io. Seven- and 10-foot-wide additions to the first chamber (below) could also make room for prototypes designed for ultra-cold conditions on the moons Europa, Ganymede and Titan.



    1. But to get back out of the atmosphere of Venus you would still need a vehicle like the space shuttle or a falcon heavy. And before that you would need to deliver your launch vehicle undamaged to your working altitude. Big launch vehicles (ie, not an apollo LM ascent stage) are delicate machines and currently they can’t just be chucked into the atmospheres of earth sized planets with the expectation that they will Just Work.

  1. This will all end in tears!  I just know that the Venus probe will go berserk, burst out of it’s testing chamber and wreck havoc until some passing superhero can deal with it.

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