National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists have been working on a preliminary feasibility study on whether it is possible for humans and robots to travel to Venus.
Scientists and engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, are working on a project known as HAVOC — High Altitude Venus Operational Concept.
“The atmosphere of Venus is an exciting destination for both further scientific study and future human exploration,” said Christopher A. Jones, an aerospace engineer of the Space Mission Analysis Branch.
Venus has a mean temperature of 462 degrees Celsius (863 degrees Fahrenheit) with an atmospheric pressure 92 times that of the Earth. The surface of the planet is so hot it can melt lead. It is also surrounded by sulfuric acid clouds.
“One concept is a lighter-than-air vehicle that could carry either a host of instruments and probes, or a habitat and ascent vehicle for a crew of two astronauts to explore Venus for up to a month,” he added.
He went on to say that the study has shown the mission could be completed in less time than required for crewed mission to other planets.
The HAVOC model is based on putting astronauts inside an “aeroshell” which would then enter the planet’s atmosphere at a speed of 4,500 miles (around 7,200 kilometers) per hour.
During its decent, it would slow down to 450 meters per second, then deploy a parachute, after that the shell would disengage, leaving a folded airship like structure.
The blimp would then be unfurled by robotic arms and inflated with helium, allowing the airship to “float” some 30 miles above Venus’s scorching surface.
“With advances in technology and further refinement of the concept, missions to the Venusian atmosphere can expand humanity’s future in space,” Jones added.
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