NASA describes Venus as "a dark world of intense heat and volcanic activity." It has a toxic atmosphere and temperatures that can melt lead, properties that make it a difficult place to explore. That's why NASA is fascinated by a new spacecraft design proposed by a team from the University of Buffalo.
NASA selected Breeze's bioinspired beam for extreme environments and zonal exploration for the Agency's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. finance the early-stage space exploration projects "that could change what is possible in space."
Breeze is currently a concept, but it's extremely cool. The Buffalo Aerospace Structures and Hybrid Crash Laboratory (CRASH) team envisioned a solar-powered spacecraft with flapping wings that mimics the movement of a stingray through water.
"The design could efficiently harness high winds in the upper reaches of the planet, providing scientists unprecedented control over the vehicle," Buffalo said in a news release Monday.
Venus has a dark side that is away from the sun for a long time. However, Breeze should recharge on the sunny side before returning to the dark to gather data on the planet's atmosphere, weather, and volcanic activity.
While Breeze is far from being a real spaceship, NASA is already looking for ways to learn more about Venus. The agency has considered building a probe called Long-Lived In-situ Solar System Explorer to investigate the planet's inhospitable surface.
To create a machine that will last on Venus requires creative engineering skills. This makes Mars feel like a relaxing beach holiday.