NASA Wants to Send People to Venus and Fly a Zeppelin There

Venus exploration base above clouds 1 photo
Photo: screenshot from Youtube
Yeah, we have plans to colonize Mars a bit in the future, but that’s kinda’ far, reason why the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is looking towards Venus for a similar mission and further exploring our planet’s closest relative.
Wait a minute... Isn’t Venus a dead planet with surface temperature of 735 K (462 °C / 863 °F) and a thick acid atmosphere which also exerts a pressure at the surface that is 92 times the one on Earth? Well, yes, but nobody said people should descend on the surface of the planet.

The researchers over at NASA’s Langley facility came up with the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) to float above the dense sulfuric acid that make up for most of Venus’ atmosphere.

Since HAVOC will be some kind of huge blimp floating around in the safer atmosphere represents the best way of further exploring the planet without the hassles of descending, landing and taking off. Probes can be simply launched from the main ship while the astronauts will stay up there safe and sound at an altitude of about 50 km (31 miles).

The plan is to send unmanned probes in the Venusian atmosphere at the beginning to test out the technology. Then, a spacecraft with astronauts will be sent to meet an existing craft orbiting the planet, after which the “zeppelin” should get deployed.

Venus quick facts

  • Venus is the second planet from the Sun and makes a full rotation in 224.7 Earth days
  • It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty
  • Look up in the night sky and you’ll see Venus as the brightest natural object after the Moon
  • Venus is a terrestrial planet, similar in size and mass to Earth, which also gives it about 80 percent of our gravity
  • The surface of the planet can’t be seen with the naked eye from up above due to a thick layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid
  • It is believed that Venus may have had oceans in the past that have vaporized as the temperature rose due to a runaway greenhouse effect, and that the atmosphere was pretty much resembling ours in a distant past
  • Project Magellan (1990-1991) was the first to detail map the planet’s surface
  • Around 80% of Venus’ surface is covered by smooth volcanic plains, with wrinkle ridges and lobate plains here and there
  • Because of the strongest greenhouse effect in our Solar system generated by the thick clouds, the surface temperature on Venus is actually higher than the one on Mercury (the closest planet from the Sun)
  • A total of 44 missions were started to explore Venus
  • The first one happened in 1961 with the Russians launching Sputnik 7 attempting to send a lander on Venus but failed due to electric problems
  • The last mission started in 2010 with Japan’s ISAS Venus Orbiter but the Akatsuki probe designed to orbit the planet missed it due to a faulty valve and will attempt reentry in November, 2015
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