Planet Venus shares numerous characteristics with Earth. Consequently, the study of Venus could actually lead us to better comprehend our own planet. Yet the surface of our neighbor is far too hot and pressurized for human survival. So, if we’re ever to send a person toward the planet, a solution will be required. And, as it happens, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has given this a great deal of thought.
Venus’s atmosphere is largely composed of carbon dioxide, and also includes large concentrations of sulfuric acid. This environment retains energy derived from the Sun, leading the surface to warm up. As a result, Venus at ground level is among the most scorching areas of our Solar System.
The skies of Venus, on the other hand, are characterized by conditions far more suited to inhabitants of the Earth. Venus’s upper atmosphere possesses levels of gravity, pressure and density akin to those found on our planet. As such, if a person was ever to make it to Venus, they’d be far better off staying up high.
It turns out that NASA has actually considered how such a feat could be achieved in reality. This imagined mission even has a name – the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC). Basically, HAVOC describes a month-long operation in which astronauts would be based within airships high in Venusian skies.
Such dirigibles would waft through the atmosphere of Venus, propelled by the planet’s air currents. They would be full of oxygen and nitrogen – gases which humans can breathe. Given that these aren’t as dense as Venus’s atmosphere, the airships would consequently float. And while this is, for now, hypothetical, that’s not to say it won’t one day become a reality.