An article published on the Phys.org website on December 18 addresses recent NASA’s report discussing the possibility of manned mission to Venus.
Everyone is aware of many existing plans for humans to visit, even colonize Mars. NASA, Mars One, and SpaceX are already working on projects promising to take people to Mars in recent future. Available technology allows us to contemplate such missions with great confidence. World’s leading minds recommend having that option in the sleeve for the sake of preservation of the human species; in case of a major tragedy that is ever-present danger for a tiny blue ball racing through the Universe. Nobody was seriously considering Venus as an alternative home for humanity, so far.
According to NASA,” Venus is covered by a thick, rapidly spinning atmosphere, creating a scorched world with temperatures hot enough to melt lead and surface pressure 90 times that of Earth.”
So, when I first read the title of the above mentioned article, naturally my reaction was,” Are you kidding me?” They could as well give those astronauts coordinates of Inferno? Isn’t the surface temperature on Venus, like, thousand degrees? But no, I was wrong. In fact, it’s just +870° F (+465°C). And another minor detail – it rains sulfur. Even robotic probes didn’t last long. Why would anyone want to go there? And, how would a couple of melted astronauts help humanity?
As it turns out, Venus is a more welcoming place for humans than Mars. After all, Venus is commonly referred as Earth’s twin planet. Apparently, its benefits are abundance of solar energy and significantly lower radiation than that present on Mars. And, radiation is the biggest problem for manned missions to Mars, because it is 40 times higher than the average experienced on Earth. But, let’s put Mars aside.
So far it is clear to everybody that we couldn’t possibly dispatch people on the surface of Venus, but sending them on a platform hovering in planet’s atmosphere, which NASA named HAVOC (High Altitude Venus Operational Concept) is something completely different. It would be floating in a zeppelin-like manner at about 50 kilometers (approx. 31 miles) above the surface of this greenhouse planet, where temperatures average 75°C (176°F). In protective suits those temperatures are manageable even outside enclosed living quarters.
Sometimes in the future HAVOC might become a synonym of a home for a band of brothers in search of adventure. With the exponential rate of technological advancements, wonders are to be expected and breakthroughs calculated. Once the orbiting stations are deployed and assembled into a colony, further steps could involve establishing a permanent space bridge between Earth and Venus, further exploration of Venus, and possible exploitation of its resources.
Some 200, 000 people applied for the Mars One mission, determined to leave Earth for good. While floating above the surface of an inhospitable planet doesn’t seem tempting for most of us, there would most certainly be many volunteers happy to go where no human has gone before. Space prospectors may one day discover abundance of natural resources from which future humans may greatly benefit.