(ORDO NEWS) — The VASI (Venus Atmospheric Structure Investigation) instrument will go along with other instruments of the NASA DAVINCI mission to explore the mysterious atmosphere of Venus.
VASI will be mounted on the descent sphere, which will be equipped with 5 instruments designed to study the characteristics of the atmosphere and measure how they change as they descend.
The VASI measurements will provide new information about the temperature, pressure and winds of Venus and provide a primary altitude reference for instruments that will study the composition of the atmosphere.
One of the key questions is whether volcanoes are active on Venus. Detailed measurements of atmospheric temperatures, winds, and atmospheric composition will help find the answer.
However, clouds of sulfuric acid, an atmospheric pressure of about 90 times Earth’s, and a surface temperature of around 460°C make exploring Venus incredibly challenging.
Creating instruments capable of making sensitive measurements in the harsh conditions of Venus is a titanic task.
Most of DAVINCI’s sensors and other subsystems will be encased in a reentry sphere, whose rugged construction will withstand the intense atmospheric pressure, while effective insulation will protect the systems from intense heat near the surface of Venus.
However, VASI sensors must be directly exposed to these harsh conditions in order to do their job.
As the sphere descends towards the surface of Venus, VASI will record fluctuations in atmospheric temperature using a sensor wrapped in a thin, straw-like metal tube.
The atmosphere will heat the tube, and the sensor will read information from it, remaining protected from the aggressive environment.
At the same time, VASI will measure atmospheric pressure using a small silicon membrane enclosed in the instrument.
On one side of the membrane there will be a vacuum, and on the other – the atmosphere of Venus, which will put pressure on the membrane and stretch it.
This tension is used to calculate the pressure force.
VASI will also measure wind speed and direction using a combination of accelerometers and gyroscopes installed in the sphere.
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