Saturday, December 20, 2014

NASA HAVOC: Manned mission to Venus Possible

HAVOC. Credit: NASA Langley Research Center

NASA's Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate has issued a report outlining a possible way for humans to visit Venus, rather than Mars, by hovering in the atmosphere instead of landing on the surface.

The hovering vehicle, which they call a High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC), would resemble a blimp with solar panels on top, and would allow people to do research just 50 kilometers above the surface of the planet.

Most everyone knows that NASA wants to send people to Mars, that planet also gets most of the press. Mars is attractive because it looks more like Earth and is relatively close to us.

The surface of Venus on the other hand, though slightly closer, is not so attractive, with temperatures that can melt lead and atmospheric pressure 92 times that of Earth.

There's also that thick carbon dioxide atmosphere with sulphuric acid clouds, lots of earthquakes, volcanoes going off and terrifying lightning bolts.

Perhaps humans could ride through the upper atmosphere of Venus in a solar-powered airship. Dale Arney and Chris Jones, from Nasa's Space Analysis Branch, propose that it may make sense to go to Venus before we ever send humans to Mars.

So, why would anyone rather go to Venus than Mars? Because of far lower radiation and much better solar energy.

No one wants to go the surface of Venus, at least not anytime soon, instead, researchers at NASA are looking into the possibility of sending people to hover in the sky above the planet, conducting research in a far less dangerous place than even on the surface of Mars.

At 50 kilometers up, an HAVOC would experience just one atmosphere of atmospheric pressure and temperatures averaging just 75 degrees Celsius, with radiation levels equivalent to those in Canada.

Astronauts on Mars, on the other hand would experience 40 times the amount of radiation typically faced back here on Earth, which suggests they'd have to live deep underground to survive, a problem that scientists have not yet solved.

Read the full article here

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