NASA is planning a manned mission to Venus, which is dreaded for its vociferous temperatures, toxic atmospheres and killing pressures on its surface. The mission named HAVOC-High Altitude Venus Operational Concept is designed to use thick Venus atmosphere for the exploration. However, NASA is yet to announce a formal date for the mission. NASA intends to conduct small tests before going ahead with a long-term plan.
Using state-of-the-art technology, NASA intends to use airships that would stay high up in the atmosphere for long periods.
Venus’s upper atmosphere resembles that of Earth’s. The temperature and pressure along 50km to 60km is similar to that of lower atmosphere of Earth. The atmospheric pressure experienced at 55km on Venus is 50% of what we have at sea level.
One wouldn’t need a pressure suit or insulation as temperature is in the range of 20°C to 30°C, while the pressure is what we would face at Mount Kilimanjaro. Since the atmosphere on Venus is so thick, it would shield the astronauts from being ionized with space radiation. Another advantage Venus has is its proximity to Sun, which enables it to have around 1.4 times higher solar power, which can effectively be used to generate solar energy. The planned airship is expected to float on the planet through blowing winds.
The surface mapping on Venus from orbit has already been done by radar which was on the US Magellan mission. It must be stated that only a few sites on Venus have ever been visited in late 1970s by Soviet’s Venera missions.The probes that visited Venus sent the images of the surface. The harsh conditions eliminate the likelihood of any form of life on the planet. However, there is a likelihood of extremophile life on Earth which would survive atmospheric conditions at the height where HAVOC will be flying, something that HAVOC may explore!