Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsSpace is an extreme environment. Robots, rovers and probes face a whole range of hazards

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsduring space missions: from extreme temperatures, to cosmic radiation, to corrosion caused by gases in the planet atmospheres. Extreme temperatures can stop a rover or probe from doing its job, or can even completely destroy it. If a celestial body is too cold, like the moons Titan and Europa, who have surface temperatures of under minus 170 degrees centigrade, even military grade electronics cannot function. If a planet is too hot, like Venus, whose surface can reach over 450 degrees, instruments melt within minutes. On some worlds, like the moon and Mars, temperatures vary widely from day to night, sometimes by as much as two hundred degrees.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 secondsThe electronic parts in space rovers must not only survive the extremes of wildly changing temperatures, but also cope with fatigue, where parts wear down and fail over time. NASA is currently developing ideas for new technologies that will help them to achieve scientific success on long duration missions to both low-temperature and wide-temperature range environments. These include textiles used in landing parachutes and air bags, and power electronics that can withstand low temperature and high radiation, as well as electronic packaging like shielding and connectors that can cope with the thermal cycles present on Mars and the moon. Venus, the second planet from the sun, is an extremely hostile environment.

Skip to 1 minute and 34 secondsIt has a surface temperature averaging 452 degrees centigrade at an atmospheric pressure of 93 bar, that’s 90 times higher pressure than Earth. Its atmosphere is composed mainly of carbon dioxide with clouds of sulfuric acid. Missions to the surface of Venus have succeeded, but mission lifetime is extremely short. They last from minutes to hours, until materials melt and electronic components fail due to the extreme conditions. Engineers working at NASA are developing technologies that can survive in high temperature environments up to around 500 degrees centigrade. 12 universities and research laboratories across the USA are involved in this work on researching

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 secondsa diverse range of electronic and electrical systems: • from motors that can withstand the high temperature and high pressure, • to low intensity high temperature solar cells that are protected from corrosion and built from semiconductors designed to capture light energy efficiently at Venus. The program will enable future probes to explore Venus for extended periods of time. With innovative research like this, we can create systems that defy the odds and work in hazardous environments across the solar system and beyond.

New initiatives for dealing with hazards

Space is an extreme environment. Robots, rovers and probes face a whole range of hazards during space missions: from extreme temperatures, to cosmic radiation, to corrosion caused by gases in the planet atmospheres.

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