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Balloons Technology for Jupiter and Saturn

Solar Infrared Mongolfiere Aerobots (SIRMAs) use a combination to lower planetary infrared heating during the night and solar heating during the day (Ref. 5). A detailed study performed on the use of SIRMA-type balloons at Jupiter indicates that about 112 kg of total floating mass would be required to support a ten-kg payload. The balloon wpuld float at about 0.1 bar during the day and descends to about 0.2 bar at night, using isentropic compression heating to help slow the nightly descent rate. The total delivered mass would be about ten times lighter than for comparable pure hydrogen balloon systems at Jupiter. A similar SIRMA for Saturn would weigh about 220 kg and may also be viable. SIRMAs for Uranus and Neptune, however, are less mass-competitive than ambient gas balloons that are filled with low molecular weight gas from these planets upper atmospheres.

In order to obtain data from the lower atmosphere regions of Jupiter and Saturn, it appears quite feasible to drop lightweight, deep atmosphere sondes from the balloon as it passes over areas of scientific interest. Results can then be relayed to the stratosphere-floating Montgolfiere.

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