We all know the struggle that has been going on for quite some time to get humans to land on Mars and explore the planet. However, are you aware of the fact that NASA is also working on coming up with means to execute a manned mission to Earth’s neighbor – Venus?
Research team at Langley facility of NASA has come up with High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) as one of the ways through which Venus can be explored. It basically involves launching a ‘blimp’ along with 2 astronauts on a mission that will last for a month and shall involve floating around Venus’ atmosphere. The exploration of Venus has been deemed difficult since its atmosphere contains a high amount of sulphuric acid along with very hot surface temperatures – enough to melt lead – and the air pressure on ground is crushing.
So, how is HAVOC expected to work around these issues? The idea is to pilot an inflatable vehicle, thus avoiding all these problems altogether. That is possible because it allows to remove the cost and technical implications of executing a descent followed by landing and a take-off later. The engineers who have worked on the HAVOC concept stated that the astronauts for this mission will be living and working inside the floating blimb. The blimp vehicle will most probably be filled by Helium to help it stay afloat. Engineers are hopeful that owing to the Venusian atmosphere, the vehicle will be able to stay afloat for 50 kilometers.
The team will start the exploration by first carrying out unmanned missions to the Venus’ atmosphere to carry out tests of the technology and to also study the atmosphere before humans are sent on the surface. The manned craft will then be launched and shall meet up with the craft already orbiting the planet. One out of the two crafts will then be descended into the atmosphere of Venus after which it will deploy the airship at the required altitude. The team envisions human settlements that will be anchored in the atmosphere of Venus.
NASA has no manned missions planned as of now, however, the firm’s Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate came up with the HAVOC concept that shall be put forward to the ‘Agency decision makers’. Do you find it interesting that NASA will actually be considering such conceptual approaches to start settlements in other planets?