The dense, hot, turbulent, and toxic atmosphere of Venus makes this planet incredibly difficult for any lander. Suffice it to recall that the rovers on the Red Planet have been working safely for years, but for Venus, the “survival” record is only 56 minutes – this is how much the Soviet landing probe Vega-2 worked on the surface.
The creation of spacecraft for the exploration of Venus requires unusual design solutions – and NASA developers turned to the general public for help with this. In February 2020, the agency announced an open competition, Exploring Hell, to design an Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) that could withstand harsh Venus.
The organizers received more than 750 proposals from residents of 82 countries of the world, and recently the engineers of NASA Tournament Lab, together with the crowdsourcing platform HeroX, which was the main sponsor of the competition, announced the winners. The main prize – including the $15,000 prize – went to Egyptian architect and industrial designer Youssef Ghali. The apparatus he proposed uses the energy of the wind to move slowly and carefully along the dangerous surface of Venus.
“There were so many great ideas and superbly crafted concepts that in addition to the first, second, and third places, we decided to give two more finalists and ten more projects with honorable mentions”, said Jonathan Sauder of NASA.