Author Topic: Clockwork Rover to Explore Venus - AREE  (Read 1755 times)

Online savuporo

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5138
  • Liked: 947
  • Likes Given: 338
Clockwork Rover to Explore Venus - AREE
« on: 08/09/2017 01:17 AM »
http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/space-robots/jpl-design-for-a-clockwork-rover-to-explore-venus

Quote
A conventional approach to a Venus rover like this is difficult, expensive, and potentially dangerous, but a team of engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, Calif., have come up with an innovative new idea for exploring the surface of Venus. If the problem is the electronics, why not just get rid of them, and build a mechanical rover instead?

With funding from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, the JPL team wants to see whether it might be possible to build a Venus exploration rover without conventional sensors, computers, or power systems. The Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) would use clockwork gears and springs and other mechanisms to provide the majority of the rover’s functionality, including power generation, power storage, sensing, locomotion, and even communication: no electronics required. Bring on the heat.



Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Online Norm38

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 966
  • Liked: 368
  • Likes Given: 492
Re: Clockwork Rover to Explore Venus - AREE
« Reply #1 on: 08/09/2017 02:51 AM »
 Very steampunk. Can a spark transmitter reach an orbiter?  Bandwidth will be horrible but there probably won't be much to send.

Online Zed_Noir

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2190
  • Canada
  • Liked: 280
  • Likes Given: 434
Re: Clockwork Rover to Explore Venus - AREE
« Reply #2 on: 08/10/2017 10:46 AM »
More details on this from a FISO telecon presentation on May 24th, 2017 with Jonathan Sauder and Evan Hilgemann from JPL. Audio & slides links below.

Presentation Slides

MP3 Audio Presentation



Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5867
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 741
  • Likes Given: 4496
Re: Clockwork Rover to Explore Venus - AREE
« Reply #3 on: 08/18/2017 09:09 AM »
Very steampunk. Can a spark transmitter reach an orbiter?  Bandwidth will be horrible but there probably won't be much to send.
In the early years of the 20th century spark transmitters could send across the Atlantic.

I think the issue is that Venus has a very active weather system so the challenge is picking the signal out of the static.  :(

Either serious processing power on the orbiter or record and relay to Earth for processing.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5867
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 741
  • Likes Given: 4496
Re: Clockwork Rover to Explore Venus - AREE
« Reply #4 on: 08/18/2017 11:35 AM »
More details on this from a FISO telecon presentation on May 24th, 2017 with Jonathan Sauder and Evan Hilgemann from JPL. Audio & slides links below.

Presentation Slides

MP3 Audio Presentation
I've now heard the sound and presentation.

Once you get past the reaction of "This is barking mad"  :) you start to appreciate it's benefits. There also seem to be a few disconnects between what mechanical  technology has achieved and what people think it can. A read through the annual proceedings of the NASA "Space Mechanisms" conference demonstrats some truly astonishing space rated gadgets. One of my favorites was the deployment system for the Trident missile "aerodisk," which pops up the spike during a trident launch to cut drag by 50%.

The rover is pretty big, which suggests it's going to need quite a lot of power. If power is roughly pressure X volume of fluid through the turbine that's going to be issue, despite the very high static pressure.  :(

Data transmission. I quite liked the reflection mode radar Aldis lamp concept  :) but I think people underestimate how much bandwidth you can get with physical movement, if it's small enough.
This device for example had a bandwidth of several KHz.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_(listening_device)
http://www.cryptomuseum.com/covert/bugs/thing/index.htm

Likewise this device managed maths functions at 21Hz.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marchant_calculator

I liked the idea of multiple single function probes the rover could drop at different locations for long duration data on temp, pressure and seismic activity but they also said you'd only have site of the orbiter data relay for maybe 10mins at a time.

The big difference between analog and digital computing is the ability of the digital computer to change what it does based on on its inputs [EDIT including what it does with those inputs. ]  Actual analog computers compute basically a single function, or very small group of functions, which is nowhere near the "universal machine"

The question is really do you need that level of flexibility or is Venus so hostile that any data is better than none or do "hard wired" (there doesn't seem to be an equivalent term for a rigid function mechanical system) mechanical systems perform adequately enough?

I personally would love to see a mechanical digital computer but you have to address how is it powered? What does it use for RAM? What does it use for ROM (probably the simplest of all. I'd go with a "player piano" with either an endless loop of metal foil or an instruction to rewind and start at the beginning  ).
What does it use for long term data storage? Mechanical profileometers have been able to measure surface features in the micro inch range (IE 25.4 x 10^-9 m)

I note that they seem to want to use analog computing devices but the "subjunction" architecture is based on little FSMs. That implies a digital system of some sort.

Venus is a very hostile atmosphere. I suspect their biggest challenge will be (conceptually) their simplest. Actual movement. Driving the rover (and storing the power to drive it during a 58 day "night" if needed) . deciding when it's gone far enough, or found something "interesting" and what to do if it gets into difficulty ) although the "tank" geometry looks like a big help in this situation.

[EDIT Their presentation talks about using a "composite spring" for energy storage. These turn out to be available
http://www.abssac.co.uk/p/Wound+Springs/Carbon+Composite+Springs/141/#.WZdEirg6Vkh

and it turns out DuPonts "Vespel" polymers are listed as being stable up to 398c (although not in air).

This raises the question "how close to Venus ambient do you want to run the rover internals." Pressurizing the rover internals to Venus ambient (giving a near all mechanical system) means you no longer need a pressure vessel that survive a pressure difference of 90bar and does not have to be a sphere or cylinder.

It gets more tricky if you want to run the internals at near Venus ambient temperature, which you also probably want to do. That eliminates needing a cooling system but complicates managing friction, which is going to be a big part of any such design. Fortunately Silicon Oxide and Nitride bearings can run to very high temperatures and quite a lot of work has been done on oil free gas turbine designs, which have similar issues. Otherwise you're probably looking at solid high temperature lubricants like MoS. Again filling the vehicle with a high pressure inert gas (He,Ar, N2 or even CO2) is a good idea. Another question is if you're doing active cooling do you want the inside filling to be a good or a bad heat conductor?

One point with a mostly mechanical system is how do you transmit data between units? Shaft rotation? Shaft sliding? If you relax the restriction from "mechanical" to "non electrical" that would allow transmission using fluid pressure of some kind, which at this these temperatures could include anything up to using Lead as a hydraulic fluid, although you'd probably want to use some lower Mp alloy like a Gallium mix   :)   ]


Note. Just because such a system measures pressure with a Bourdon gauge, or temperature with a bimetallic strip or seismic activity with a lump of metal on an arm (devices from the 19th century or earlier) does not mean they have to be designed by methods from the 19th century.  :)

If you were trying to design a full size steam locomotive would you do without CFD for tube design and stress calculations? Would you rule out CNC for the plates, or FSW for the joining?

Once you implement such devices using 21st methods the results you can achieve may surprise people. [EDIT As KE Drexler noted at nanometre scale a computer based on mechanical motion could cycle at 1GHz.

Conventional (wet) photochemical machining can deliver line widths and foil thicknesses of a few thou IE 50micrometers. ]
« Last Edit: 08/18/2017 08:59 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7983
  • UK
  • Liked: 1277
  • Likes Given: 168
Re: Clockwork Rover to Explore Venus - AREE
« Reply #5 on: 08/28/2017 04:24 PM »
More here.

NASA goes Steampunk for its future Venus probes

Quote
"The NIAC program is designed to let technologists stretch and create concepts that have never been considered by NASA before," said NIAC program executive Jason Derleth, adding that ideas can come from universities, businesses or garage inventors. Still, proposals must be based on "solid scientific and engineer principals and to advance NASA's mission objectives," he adds. An example of that is Adrian Stoica's folding mirror probe, that would create a "solar oasis" on the moon, approved for fuding at a prior NIAC symposium.

The most interesting project is AREE (Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments), a Venus probe. Since our unfriendly neighbor of a planet can hit 842 degree F temperatures and 90 times Earth's atmospheric pressure, most electronics would be dead on arrival.

AREE would actually use Venus' conditions to its advantage by taking power from the wind and tapping a mechanical computer. A radar reflecting piston would move up and down to transmit surface "data" as morse code, which could be picked up by "repeater" balloons and transmitted to Earth from an orbiter.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/28/nasa-futuristic-probes-niac/

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5867
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 741
  • Likes Given: 4496
Re: Clockwork Rover to Explore Venus - AREE
« Reply #6 on: 08/29/2017 08:42 AM »
More here.
https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/28/nasa-futuristic-probes-niac/
The video's quite entertaining. It gives you an idea of how they move.

A good question is how wind speed compares when the medium is 90x denser than Earth?

Assuming the probe can see the Sun it is possible to perform passive spectroscopy of elements, given the orbiter would have a clear shot of the Sun from above the atmosphere through Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy.

Actual imaging would remain very difficult. The Viking lander cameras seem to have the (relatively) simplest electronic system, with 12 sensors (roughly broadband, 3 color, IR bands), because the motor drive signals for the casing slot and nodding mirror can be replaced by mechanical drive indexing.

A Focal Plane Array systems starts with the question can you get an FPA that doesn't need cooling? If  you can't can it survive at Venus ambient between images? If it can't then you're looking at a permanent cooling system.  :(

"line scan" (Viking) type sensors may also be temperature sensitive, but the smaller number should make it easier to deal with. Worst case may call for special sensors built to do the job in something like SiC. Easier to do with single sensors, rather than a complex scanned array.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Online A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8150
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 248
  • Likes Given: 103
Re: Clockwork Rover to Explore Venus - AREE
« Reply #7 on: 08/29/2017 11:25 AM »
More here.

NASA goes Steampunk for its future Venus probes

Quote
"The NIAC program is designed to let technologists stretch and create concepts that have never been considered by NASA before," said NIAC program executive Jason Derleth, adding that ideas can come from universities, businesses or garage inventors. Still, proposals must be based on "solid scientific and engineer principals and to advance NASA's mission objectives," he adds. An example of that is Adrian Stoica's folding mirror probe, that would create a "solar oasis" on the moon, approved for fuding at a prior NIAC symposium.

The most interesting project is AREE (Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments), a Venus probe. Since our unfriendly neighbor of a planet can hit 842 degree F temperatures and 90 times Earth's atmospheric pressure, most electronics would be dead on arrival.

AREE would actually use Venus' conditions to its advantage by taking power from the wind and tapping a mechanical computer. A radar reflecting piston would move up and down to transmit surface "data" as morse code, which could be picked up by "repeater" balloons and transmitted to Earth from an orbiter.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/28/nasa-futuristic-probes-niac/

Electronics made from silicon carbide (SiC) may work up to about 500°-600° C. Although NASA would have to pay for development of the technology and design of the chips.

http://www.analog.com/en/analog-dialogue/articles/high-temperature-electronic-pose-design-challenges.html

Edit
I found NASA Glenn was working on this in 2012
https://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/cdtb/aboutus/workshop2012/Presentations/Session%203.%20Distributed%20Engine%20Control/DEC_04_Beheim.pdf
« Last Edit: 08/29/2017 11:37 AM by A_M_Swallow »

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5867
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 741
  • Likes Given: 4496
Re: Clockwork Rover to Explore Venus - AREE
« Reply #8 on: 09/14/2017 09:53 AM »
Electronics made from silicon carbide (SiC) may work up to about 500°-600° C. Although NASA would have to pay for development of the technology and design of the chips.

http://www.analog.com/en/analog-dialogue/articles/high-temperature-electronic-pose-design-challenges.html

Edit
I found NASA Glenn was working on this in 2012
https://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/cdtb/aboutus/workshop2012/Presentations/Session%203.%20Distributed%20Engine%20Control/DEC_04_Beheim.pdf
Passive components IE non transistors, are not that big a problem.

What you're looking for is called Low Temperature Cofired Ceramic. This video was made when the technology was just being introduced, but it's now very mature.



BTW "Low Temperature" in this sense is relative to its cousin, High Temperature CC. LTCC is mfg at 850c. You can screen print inductors , resistors  and capacitors. You can mfg 20+ layer circuit boards (and their packages) in this stuff with good performance into the GHz range. People have even mfg HTP cubesat monopropellant thrusters in it. It's common in automotive and medical applications due to high reliability and very high inertness.

The jokers about electronics on Venus are a)Power supply and b) Transistors.

Power storage is difficult. Very few battery technologies are designed to operate at Venus surface temp. IIRC the only ones I know are Sodium / Sulfur and "thermal" batteries, designed as one-shot use primary cells for military equipment. With no self discharge paths (because they don't conduct at all below several 100c) they have (theoretically) unlimited shelf lives. But that also means no one's ever tried to find a rechargeable chemistry for them.

The other issue is transistors.
Silicon dies at about 150c. Silicon using SOI processes (as Analog Devices may do) can survive to 210c.
GaAs, SiC or SiN should do better but its a density question. Mostly you can't order them up in the 10s of 1000s you'd want for substantial modern electronic functionality. You could do RF amplification, but in principle you could do that with a small sized, hardened travelling wave tube (technically a vacuum tube, but very solid, all metal construction).
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Tags: