Ross Brooks

Unmanned Solar-Powered Drone Could Survey Alien Worlds for an Entire Year

by , 03/04/14
filed under: News, Solar Power

Northrop Grumman, unmanned VAMP drone, radioactive decay of plutonium-238, solar-powered space drone, Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform, Venus atmospheric survey, space glider,

Global aerospace and defense technology company Northrop Grumman is confident that it already has the technology to build an unmanned inflatable aircraft that could explore other worlds. The company announced plans to build a drone that would take advantage of the fierce winds and intense sunlight found on our neighboring planet Venus. Solar panels, heat conversion technology, and the ability to glide would enable the drone to explore for up to a year unaided.


Northrop Grumman, unmanned VAMP drone, radioactive decay of plutonium-238, solar-powered space drone, Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform, Venus atmospheric survey, space glider,

Northrop Grumman calls their dream drone the Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform, or VAMP. To get the drone where it needs to go, it would have to be transported to Venus onboard a mothership. Once there, the mothership would lower the drone into the planet’s atmosphere and inflate it with hydrogen before its final release.

Related: Over 200,000 People Apply to Become First Colonizers of Mars

Once airborne, the drone would switch between gliding and self-propelled flight during the day. During the nights, however, which are 70 hours long on Venus, it has to rely on a system that converts heat from the radioactive decay of plutonium-238 into electricity. Between these different systems, the aircraft is able to provide for, and carry, 440 pounds of scientific instrumentation. The drone itself weighs 992 pounds and has an impressive wingspan of 151 feet.

This is just one permutation of the company’s drone, which could also be designed to explore other destinations such as Mars and Titan. Not only could the unmanned aircraft provide valuable atmospheric information, but it could also aid in the search for life on other planets. In the very distant future, and assuming you believe it’s possible, they could also become instrumental in establishing and maintaining other world colonies.

+ Northrop Grumman

Via Dvice

Images by Northrop GrummanNASA

Related: NASA’s Juno Spaceship to Jupiter Will Make the Most Distant Use of Solar Power Ever

Related Posts

LEAVE A COMMENT

or your inhabitat account below

Let's make sure you're a real person:


get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home