Dec 29, 2014 04:39 PM EST
With a new project on the board, many are lefting thinking that the lead astrophysicists at NASA may have been inhaling a bit too much helium, lately. NASA recently stepped-forward and proposed that we very well one day might send astronauts, via a Hindenburg-like balloon, toward Venus' upper-atmosphere to research the possibility of a "cloud city community."
The current state of Venus is described as global warming on Earth gone awry. The surface of the water-less planet's a bone-ashing 1,000 degree Fahrenheit, hot enough to liquefy lead. And, while the smell of burning hair begins to permeate your olfactory senses, you'll be cooled down by the highly-acidic rain, pouring down from the always-present stormy weather. Not a very hospitable picture.
"The vast majority of people, when they hear the idea of going to Venus and exploring, think of the surface, where it's hot enough to melt lead and the pressure is the same as if you were almost a mile underneath the ocean," says Chris Jones, Aerospace engineer at NASA Langley Research Center. "There are things that you would need to do for a Mars mission, but we see a little easier path through Venus."
So the idea, obviously, with a cloud city is to establish a livable―albeit, completely artificial―and hospitable environment that humans could, theoretically, take residency in.
"Venus has value as a destination in and of itself for exploration and colonization. But it's also complementary to current Mars plans," Jones added. "There are things that you would need to do for a Mars mission, but we see a little easier path through Venus."
And HAVOC (High Altitude Venus Operational Concept) is the very up-front code-name given to the project. The colonial crown jewel of HAVOC is it's Teflon-coated balloon concept. Ideally, a small space pod, containing no more than two astronauts, would enter Venus' upper atmosphere at a blazing 7200m per-second, deploying the solar-heat-inflatable before reaching what NASA is calling the "Atmosphere Operation," where the astronauts will then conduct their research.
"If you did Venus first, you could get a leg up on advancing those technologies and those capabilities ahead of doing a human-scale Mars mission. It's a chance to do a practice run, if you will, of going to Mars," says Dale Arney, HAVOC and NASA researcher.
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