SSTL/ESA – Venus Entry Probe

The Venus Entry Probe (VEP) study was one of ESA’s Technology Reference Studies (TRSs).  These activities are specifically designed to focus on future technology requirements rather than being traditional mission studies.  Although science-driven they are not part of the ESA science programme and are design to identify technologies that will enable future lower cost scientific missions.

The Venus Entry Probe TRS examined various options for in-situ exploration of the atmosphere of Venus by means of a balloon. Venus was chosen as a target because it is the closest object for such a technologically challenging in-situ atmospheric investigation. Though the focus of the study is on Venus, many of the technologies required to enable a European ballooning mission to Venus are also applicable to other planetary bodies with a significant atmosphere.

The VEP mission concept consists of an aerobot, which will analyse the Venusian middle cloud layer together with a remote sensing satellite. During flight, the balloon will deploy active ballast probes, which will measure basic physical properties of the lower atmosphere during their descent.

SSTL was the prime contractor on the VEP study for ESA. They conducted mission analysis and designed the scientific payload. Vorticity was required to define the probe architecture including entry, descent and aerobot systems.

Vorticity completed a system analysis of a Venus entry probe for the European Space Agency which would deploy a balloon system to analyse the Venusian atmosphere. This work included probe architecture definition, entry and aerothermal heating predictions, sizing and design of the protective aeroshell, parachute system analysis and design and aerobot system analysis and design.