Venus to Get Mechanical Computer Based Rover?

Clockwork computer and a concept inspired by the World War I tank can help us one day. The design is being explored in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena in Casasia.

Automation Rover for Extreme Environment (AAR) has been funded for study by NASA’s innovative advanced concept programs. The program provides small grants to develop the technique of the initial phase, which allows engineers to complete their ideas.

The first proposal of AERI was made by JPL’s Mechteronics Engineer Jonathan Sowder in 2015. He got inspiration from a mechanical computer that uses lever and gear to compute rather than electronics.

By avoiding electronics, a rover can better detect Venus. Pressure occurs in the hellish atmosphere of the planet, which is mostly crushing submarines. Its average surface temperature is 864 degrees Fahrenheit (462 ° C), which is sufficient for melting lead

Mechanical computers are used throughout history, most often adding machines such as mathematical devices. The most famous could be the invention of Charles Babbage’s inter-engine, 19th century invention for the calculation of algebraic equations. The oldest known Antikythera system is to be used by ancient Greeks to estimate celestial phenomena like eclipses

Mechanical computers were also developed in the form of artwork for hundreds of years, the clock pattern mechanism was used to automate the rich patrons. In the 1770s, a Swiss Watchmaker, named Pier Jacket-Droz, created “The Writer”, an automation that could be programmed to write any combination of letters.

Sauder said that these analog technologies could help where the electronics generally fail. In extreme environments, like Venus’s surface, most electronics will melt in high temperatures or will be crushed by sulfuric acid in the atmosphere.

Soder said, “Venus is too inhospitable for kind of complex control systems you have on a Mars rover, But with a fully mechanical rover, you might be able to survive as long as a year.”

Wind turbine will power these computers in the center of the rover, which can turn it upside down and keep it going. But the planet’s atmosphere will present a lot of challenges.

“When you think of something as extreme as Venus, you want to think really out there. It’s an environment we don’t know much about beyond what we’ve seen in Soviet-era images.” said Evan Hilgemann, a JPL engineer working on high temperature designs for AREE

(Credit: NASA/JPL)