This Windbot Will Fly over Jupiter Forever
Exciting new space programs are on the horizon as the world turns its attention towards the exploration of the various planets throughout our solar system. After the launch of the famous Curiosity robot that is currently roaming around Mars, NASA now has plans to develop a windbot that will make use of wind energy to fly all around Jupiter without the need to ever stop and refuel. This idea could be one of the first in a line of new technological advancements that are able to survive independently through the use of green technologies like wind and solar power.
The idea has been developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and is part of the Innovative Advanced Concepts program, which allows for budding entrepreneurs and inventors to propose their ideas to NASA in order to contribute to the future of space travel. After the initial proposal of the windbot plan, the idea was awarded $100,000 in funding just a couple of months ago. This money is used by the scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab to develop the theory and potentially create some practical prototypes. If successful, the windbot would be able to be produced and used.
The basic idea behind the windbot is similar to a dandelion seed in that it would be able to float along on the wind, without the need for fuel or other energy sources. Studies of Jupiter have shown that the planet is ravaged by strong winds which would surely be able to provide enough turbulence for this windbot to glide across the planet continuously. The idea could even be employed on Earth or other planets where similar wind factors are common within the atmosphere.
Turbulence is the important factor for this windbot, at least according to the teams of researchers working on the idea at NASA. According to their studies, a wind that was constant and strong wouldn’t actually be able to support the windbot’s flight. The device would need a reliable energy gradient which is only created by turbulence, which provides a source of energy for the windbot to utilize in order to maintain its flight indefinitely.
One is reminded of the Solar Impulse when thinking of this proposal, the Swiss-made aircraft that has recently been flying around the world powered by nothing but the sun. The idea is similar in some ways, but very different in others as the Solar Impulse aircraft requires the constant presence of the sun to stay airborne. At night, the aircraft simply cannot fly without the use of a system that harnesses and stores energy for later use.
The windbot idea does not involve any energy storage whatsoever and would, theoretically, be able to fly over Jupiter forever. This is certainly an interesting idea and, if the windbot were somehow able to record images or data and transmit them back to Earth, valuable scientific information could be gleaned from this fascinating project.