NASA desires 40 to 60+ altitude control range for a Venus aerobot—with the 40km altitude presenting a significant hurdle for vehicle design due to high (145°C) atmospheric temperature. The Paragon-proposed innovation couples their team’s current advancements in robust, extreme temperature flexible/impermeable barrier envelopes with the latest Mechanical Compression Altitude Control Balloon (MC-ACB) technology. MC-ACB’s unique planar fabrication protocol is highly conducive to incorporation of the aforementioned extreme temperature structural and gas barrier constituents. MC-ACB is a robust, continuously super-pressurized, rapid altitude control aerobot. Ascent and descent are initiated and maintained by modulation of the balloon’s lifting gas density through motorized mechanical compression. As the aerobot ascends and descends in accordance with its programmed trajectory, the balloon’s accordion-like segmented envelope leaves the lifting gas volume free to adapt to the variation in atmospheric density associated with the varying altitude. The number of balloon segments can be adapted to the desired altitude range: A larger number of segments presents a greater ratio of distended to compressed volume, which in turn provides controlled access to the great range of trajectory altitudes sought by NASA.
Particularly in light of global warming, the MC-ACB’s rapid, accurate mobility provides an ideal Earth-observational platform for surface and atmosphere, as well as for biological systems. The technology could also prove enabling in development of stratospheric balloon-borne observation systems such as suborbital telescopes. The proposed MC-ACB technology will have immediate application in expanding exploration of atmospheric planets and moons.
Applications include long term commercial monitoring of Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land masses. The proposed MC-ACB platform and analysis tools can also be applied for a variety of semi-autonomous functions over broad areas, such as a communications platform for cellular services, sensor platforms for military applications, and electronic observation platform for border control authorities.