I remember the 1995 descent of the Galileo atmospheric module in Jupiter atmosphere. The robust casing made it withstand several dozens of bars of pressure before going out.

What measures could be used to slow the descent of such a probe? My ideas :

  • improved parachute design: However, it may cause a stability problem in case of too slow descent and the tension of the links of the canopy would be lower and the descent would be more subject to weather and more turbulent. My guess.
  • Active slowing: Quadcopter design powered by batteries that would assist in slowing and turbulence/attitude compensation associated with a parachute descent.
  • Balloon approach: least probable in my opinion due to the chemical nature of Jupiter (let's take this example) H2 And He atmosphere density is already low. The only viable solution with a parachute/quadcopter would be a buoy around the quadcopter, with heating elements pushing hot H2 inside (making a hot hydrogen balloon) or a vacuum/low-pressure balloon, but the structural constraints would be difficult to meet unless graphene/nanotubes or something of that matter would be really mastered to prevent implosion.

The goal would be to have a descent slow enough to take several pictures of the descent and uplink them to an orbiter and perform other data-intensive measurements in the interesting parts of the atmosphere that Galileo couldn't make with 80s technology, leaving more time for uplink before the probe enters the destructive high-pressure zone.

What do you think about the general idea of such a project?


closed as primarily opinion-based by StephenG, Jon Custer, sammy gerbil, Kyle Kanos, Cosmas Zachos Jun 10 '18 at 19:18

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