The Venus Chamber

Greetings and welcome back!

Today we are reviewing the UARK Planetary Simulation Laboratory's Venus Chamber! We asked some broad questions to the chamber's graduate student specialist- Sara Port, who is working on her Ph.D. in the Space & Planetary Science department at UARK.

What is a Venus Chamber?

Sara: The Venus Simulation cChamber is a 500 mL sized stainless steel chamber that can simulate the temperatures and pressures found on the surface of Venus. The chamber has the capability to reach 206.8 bar of pressure (Earth = 1 bar pressure) and about 932°F temperature. On Venus- the surface temperature is about 860°F and 95 bars of pressure!

Why is it important?

Sara: We can observe the effects of the Venusian pressure and temperature on minerals that can be found on the surface. The last time the surface of Venus was directly studied was the mid-1980s. Therefore, the results of experiments performed using the simulation chamber will help scientists in the preparation of future missions. Venus and Earth were once identical planets of similar origin, atmosphere, and geology. By understanding Venus, it will explain how the sister planets diverged from one another and better understanding of planetary formation.

What kind of experiments can be done?

Sara: Through various equipment and gases, we can study the effects of the Venusian surface. We (at UARK) are also using the chamber to determine the source of metal frost coating found on the surfaces of the Venusian mountains! Dr. Alan Mantooth of UARK also received a grant to create circuits that can be implemented on future Venus rovers which he can use the Venus chamber to test.

How do you determine the source of metal frost?

Sara: We insert several candidate minerals into the chamber to observe if it is stable in the "colder" highlands of Venus and unstable in the hotter lowlands. 

Night on Venus in Infrared from Orbiting Akatsuki. Image credit: APOD June 7

Night on Venus in Infrared from Orbiting Akatsuki. Image credit: APOD June 7

Special thanks to Sara Port for insight into her Venus chamber and research!

Tune in next week to look at what we know and don't know about Ceres!

Caitlin Ahrens