Researchers mulling inflatable airship VAMP for flying the skies of Venus
The traditional approach to sending research craft to other planets, such as Mars, is to build something mechanical and then figure out a way to get it to the planet's surface intact, using a variety of methods (parachute, inflatable protection, etc.). In this new effort, the researchers have come up with a craft that doesn't land on the surface, but instead simply flies around in the planet's atmosphere. To make that happen, they have designed an incredibly light (just 992 pounds) inflatable drone that doesn't require the development of any new technology-that means it could be made relatively inexpensively and could be ready for construction as soon as NASA agrees to pay for it. The team predicts the VAMP could operate for approximately a year before the gas inside is lost.