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Oct 6, 2020

NASA Develops a Computer Chip That Won’t Fry on Venus

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space

At 870 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 times Earth’s atmospheric pressure, we’re going to need something a little more robust than your Macbook to run future rovers.


Humanity has sent four rovers to Mars, and worldwide there are four more missions in the works to continue populating the red planet with robotic explorers. Why haven’t we sent a rover to Venus, our other next door planetary neighbor? Because the caustic surface of Venus will incinerate electronics with its 872º F temperatures and seize mechanical components with its immense atmospheric pressures. At 90 times the surface pressure of Earth, the surface of Venus is the equivalent of being almost 3,000 feet underwater.

The Great Galactic Ghoul might devour half the spacecraft we send to Mars, but Venus torched any ghouls living there long ago.

Fortunately, NASA recently took a big step toward achieving the dream of a Venusian rover. As reported by Ars Technica, researchers at the NASA Glenn Research Center built a computer chip that survived Venus-like conditions for an impressive 521 hours, almost 22 days. Even then, the experiment had to end not because the chip was breaking down, but because the Glenn Extreme Environments Rig (GEER) —the chamber that maintains simulated Venus temperatures and pressures—needed to be shut down after running for over three weeks straight.

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