Design key sensor for Venus rover and win $15,000

NASA is seeking help from the public in designing an obstacle avoidance sensor for a possible future Venus rover and has announced a competition with the first-place prize of $15,000.
The first runners-up will grab $10,000 and the third runners-up will take home $5,000, Nasa said, adding that submissions will be accepted through May 29.
“Earth and Venus are basically sibling planets, but Venus took a turn at one point and became inhospitable to life as we know it,” said Jonathan Sauder, a senior mechatronics engineer at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“By getting on the ground and exploring Venus, we can understand what caused Earth and Venus to diverge on wildly different paths and can explore a foreign world right in our own backyard,” added Sauder, also principal investigator for the Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) concept.
Venus is an extreme world. With a surface temperature in excess of 448 degrees Celsius and a surface pressure 90 times that of Earth, Venus can turn lead into a puddle and crush a nuclear-powered submarine with ease.
While many missions have visited our sister planet, only about a dozen have made contact with the surface of Venus before quickly succumbing to the oppressive heat and pressure.
The last spacecraft to touch the planet’’s surface, the Soviet Vega 2, landed in 1985. Now, engineers and scientists at JPL are studying mission designs that can survive the hellish landscape.
Powered by wind, AREE is intended to spend months, not minutes, exploring the Venus landscape, Nasa said.

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