Speed Reads

outer space

NASA scientists want to send a crew to the clouds of Venus

With temperatures above 900 degrees Fahrenheit and an intense atmospheric pressure, sending humans to the surface of Venus is impossible, but two NASA scientists say going to the planet's clouds is a different story.

Dale Arney and Chris Jones believe that an airship could explore the atmosphere of Venus, The Verge reports, because gravity at 31 miles above the planet is just slightly lower than Earth's and the atmospheric pressure is roughly the same. A helium-filled airship called the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) would run on solar power and would have to be folded into a spacecraft to make the long journey. (The human crew would follow behind in a separate craft.)

Arney and Jones suggest sending a robotic version first, followed by one with humans, and think this could be the start of even bigger explorations. "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," Jones told IEEE Spectrum. "It's a chance to do a practice run, if you will, of going to Mars."