Aerogel Insulation for the Thermal Protection of Venus Spacecraft
One of NASA's primary goals for the next decade is the design, development and launch of a spacecraft aimed at the in-situ exploration of the deep atmosphere and surface of Venus. The success of this mission, called VISE (Venus In-Situ Explorer), is reliant on the development of effective thermal insulation solutions capable of protecting spacecraft for extended periods of time from the extreme heat and pressure associated with the lower atmosphere of Venus. Materials intended for exterior application must also be inert towards the sulfuric, hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid present. Aspen Aerogels, Inc. proposes to continue its development of aerogel composites intended for thermal and chemical protection to a Venus spacecraft. During the Phase I program, we fabricated several aerogels with inherent thermal conductivities below 40 mW/m-K. In Phase II, we propose to optimize the synthesis through systematic changes in gelation, extraction, and pyrolysis conditions. Furthermore, we will demonstrate thermal conductivities of 100 mW/m-K at 500 C under 90 bars of CO2 pressure. Lastly, methods for fabricating aerogel composites into complex shapes will be investigated along with system level design including attachment to the Venus spacecraft.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Aspen Aerogels, Inc.
30 Forbes Road, Building B Northborough, MA 01532
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