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Using balloons, zeppelines etc. at/in atmospheres...

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Sun May 25, 2008 9:26 am
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Using balloons, zeppelines etc. at/in atmospheres... 
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Post Using balloons, zeppelines etc. at/in atmospheres...   Posted on: Sun May 25, 2008 9:26 am
I was pondering and "doubting" about ways to harvest or - more correctly mine hydrogen and other gases from the atmospheres of the gas giants since long. Most recently my thoughts were turned towards balloons and zeppelines - to ATOs and Ascenders in particular. JP Aerospace of course is the source because of thoughts for and about them.

But I am not sure if ATOs, Ascenders or more generaly balloons, zeppelines etc. could prevent to be pulled down into the interior of the particular planet. The reason is that I read somewhere that a balloon sent to Venus would go down to the surface because of pressure. I read it under www.marssociety.de if I remember correct and the subject was the thought of an ARCHIMEDES-like balloon for Venus- perhaps only for that balloon the issue is valid.

There also is the idea to send a zeppeline into the atmosphere of Titan.

So would an ATO, an Ascender, a balloon, a zeppeline etc. pulled down into the depths of Jupiter by the jovian gravity if sent there or could it manage to stay at the level of the highest clouds? It seems a bit as if this is a matter of the weight of a payload - instruments, mining equipment etc.. V elocity may be of significant meaning also. How about this regarding Saturn, Neptune and Uranus?

The wing span of ATO might keep it at highest altitude but I will ask JP Aerospace about it all.

Regarding sensors etc. it seems that they can be kept very light. In the actual edition of the german journal Wirtschaftswche there is an image of a special zeppeline carrying a payload of 12 kg - cameras, sensors and computers as the article says. It uses 45 m^3 Helium, is 10.5 meters long and gos up to 3000 meters on Earth and has been developed and constructed by the Technische Universität Chemnitz (Germany) and their partner Recon Group in Berlin.

My thought regarding mining of hydrogen etc. is that there might be a second zeppeline-hull which is empty and open. The filled zeppeline might move faster than the atmosphere - this way atmospheric gases would float into the second empty hull and thius be collected. To get the mined gases elsewhere another vehicle would have to fly close to the zeppeline and capture it. The gases collected would be pumped into a tank and the zeppeline could return to the jovian atmosphere.

It's an idea only and I have to think about it more

What about it?



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


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Post    Posted on: Fri Jun 27, 2008 7:50 pm
I just found an article of Wirtschaftswoche dating from September 2007. There it is said that NASA has in mind to use Methane-based vehicles to get manned to distant planets.

According to the article the thought behind this is to refuel at planets the atmospheres of contain methane - which are Jupiter and Saturn.

The article is talking of pulling the methane from their atmospheres.

So the question of how getting gases from the gas giants might be of practical meaning already... although the gases of interest don't include hydrogen in this case.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:08 am
Its all about buoyancy.

On Venus, craft similar to lighter-than-air blimps on Earth should be usable to cruise around the upper atmosphere, assuming they are made to resist the sulfuric acid aerosols. At lower altitudes they will probably more closely resemble the Bathyscaphe Trieste with a rigid hull to resist the pressure and/or equalized pressure helium. It would "fly" more like a submarine than an airship.

I think the Jovians will be even more of a challenge. Finding a buoyancy equilibrium shouldn't be that hard, but the energetic upper atmospheres might be quite dangerous from the band jets and convection cells that could rip it apart at a sheer boundary or suck it down to "crush depth".

Mining gases from Jovian atmospheres will also be a hard technical challenge. Their close approach orbital velocities are quite high, so attempting a "drive by" with a ram-scoop will put alot of strain on materials due to friction and heat/radiation. "Landing" in and attempting to float around probably aren't worth the effort because you'll probably burn all the fuel attempting to reach escape velocity again.
Neptune and Uranus probably have more potential as gas stops. They are smaller with relatively weaker gravity and more benign atmospheres with higher concetrations of methane too. But they are a long ways out of your way for a fill up if they aren't your destination.


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