NASA has recently announced its plan to form a floating human colony above Venus, a planet that is considered as the solar-system’s most unwelcoming planets.
Scientists and engineers at the Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate at NASA’s Hampton, Virginia-based Langley Research Center are currently working on the mission. It is estimated that a crewed mission to Venus would be easier as compared to that on Mars. This is because Venus has an added advantage of being closer to the Earth than Mars. While Venus is located at approximately 38 million kilometers, Mars is around 54.6 million kilometers away from the Earth. In fact, scientists at NASA believe that the mission could act as a trial run for a mission to Mars.
However, Venus poses its own problems in that it is the most inhospitable planet in the entire solar system. Being the hottest planet, it is known to have more volcanoes than on any other planet. It supports a mean temperature of as high as 462 Celsius, and its atmospheric pressure is as much as 92 times higher than that on the earth. The planet’s high sulphurous content does not allow probes to last more than a couple of hours. In spite of these threats, scientists believe that the planet holds promising data for future human exploration. At altitudes of 50 km, the planet most closely resembles the earth’s conditions.
To lead the mission HAVOC, scientists are planning to carry probes and other instruments, along with either human crew or robots in a vehicle that is proposed to be lighter than air. They plan to explore the surface of the planet for around a month in the floating city. This could lead to a permanent floating city above Venus.