NASA Recreates Venus's Hellish Atmosphere on Earth

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 - 4:33PM
Space
Solar System
Wednesday, 02 September 2015 - 4:33PM
NASA Recreates Venus's Hellish Atmosphere on Earth
Venus is the hottest and harshest planet in our solar system, with temperatures at an average of 864 degrees Fahrenheit and atmospheric pressure that's 92 times as powerful as Earth's at sea level. As a result of the extreme environment on the surface, it would be extremely difficult to observe and conduct experiments within Venus's atmosphere. Now, NASA has constructed a chamber that can replicate Venus's atmosphere, creating a veritable hell on Earth and allowing researchers to gain more insight into the relatively mysterious planet.

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"You don't have to go Venus now to do Venus atmospheric research," project manager Daniel Vento told Discovery News.
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The test rig, which is located at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio, is three by six feet, and composed of 14-ton stainless steel. Like Venus's atmosphere, it contains approximately 96% carbon dioxide, as well as nitrogen and a few other trace elements. It also replicates the extreme conditions on the planet, including the astronomical atmospheric pressure and the 900-plus temperatures, which can melt lead. The chamber was created from the equipment used in a failed attempt to make a cryocooler, a standalone refrigerator that can cool objects to cryogenic temperatures.

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"Turns out, the atmosphere of Venus has an awful lot in common with the inside of a jet engine," said Vento.
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Similar chambers constructed in the past have been able to simulate certain components of an extraterrestrial environment, but this is the first rig that has been able to exactly simulate the atmosphere. It currently has settings that allow it to replicate the environments of fellow hot planets Saturn and Jupiter, and the researchers plan to add cooling walls that would allow it to simulate the atmosphere on Uranus and other frozen planets. 
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"The long-term plan for GEER is to be able to run any planetary atmosphere," Vento said.
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NASA
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Solar System

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