High Altitudes On Venus Represent The Most Earth-Like Location In Our Solar System
Since humankind had first learned of the existence of other planets, traveling to them has always been a dream of ours. Science fiction in the early 20th century saw us going to many planets with already established cities and living in these places like it was simply another Earth.
The Hayden Planetarium was already trying to get people to reserve spots on the first space tour in the 1950s, well before we possessed our current technological advancements. While the plan to travel to Mars has not lost steam, NASA is hard at work on conceptual plans for visiting one of Earth’s other neighbors: Venus.
If you haven’t heard much about Venus, here are some facts besides it being the second planet: It is one planet that always comes closest to Earth at 38.2 million kilometers (23.7 million miles). The first space probe to return images of the planet’s surface was launched from Russia and was destroyed by the corrosive atmosphere well before it touched the ground.
With temperatures on the surface reaching at or above 460 degrees Celsius and the volcanoes that dot Venus, a manned mission to our terrestrial neighbor sounds absolutely insane. The good news is the mission involved at orbital station dubbed HAVOC (High Altitude Venus Operational Concept).
There already exist a number of caustic resistant materials to outfit an airship like HAVOC. Teflon and silicon are both designed to withstand extreme heat and liquids at different temperatures.
We would have no need to touch down on the surface. The HAVOC would actually float through the skies of the second planet carried around by the winds. Breathable air could be used as a lifting gas since it has a lower density than the Venusian atmosphere.
Even if it seems quite improbable, the upper atmosphere of this planet is actually the most Earth-like location in our solar system. In the altitudes between 50km and 60km, the temperature ranges between 20°C and 30°C and in fact, you would be fine without a pressure suit.
Despite being so close to us there is still quite a bit to learn about Venus. And with a project like HAVOC, we may learn things we never thought were possible.