Researchers from the University of Buffalo have developed a project of a spacecraft in the form of a stingray, which may someday go to explore the atmosphere of Venus. This development was carried out as part of the BREEZE project (Bio-inspired Ray for Extreme Environments and Zonal Explorations) and NASA representatives chose it as one of the 12 finalists of the NIAC program, whose goal is to facilitate the development of new technologies and the implementation of these technologies in space technology of the next generations .
The BREEZE spacecraft will move in the upper atmosphere of Venus using the flapping movements of its wings, which are literally copied from the movements of the fins of the sea slope, manta ray (manta ray). This will allow the device to “wade” through the turbulent upper layers of the atmosphere, without experiencing large mechanical loads and, while maintaining high maneuverability of the device. Also, the device will be able to change altitude, making deep “dives” into the lower and denser layers of the atmosphere.
The BREEZE aircraft will make one revolution around Venus in four to five days. He will receive the energy he needs from solar panels at a time when he will be on the sunny side of the planet. At other times, he will use the energy stored in the on-board battery. Venus, like a planet, has a low rotation speed, so the BREEZE device should be able to work long enough without sunlight.
Using specialized on-board instruments, the BREEZE apparatus will take samples of the Venusian atmosphere and carry out their chemical rapid analysis. In addition, the equipment of the device will allow monitoring the meteorological situation, creating meteorological maps and looking for traces of volcanic activity on the surface of the planet.
The device will be controlled remotely, by signals from the Earth or by signals from a spacecraft on board which there is a human operator and which rotates around Venus in low orbit.
In conclusion, it should be noted that devices such as BREEZE can be used to study not only Venus, but also other planets with a similarly complex environment, including Titan, the satellite of Saturn.