Venus’ Floating Future
Credit: National Space Centre

Venus’ Floating Future

10/06/2020Written by Sophie Allan

Jump into our Venus experience and get a glimpse of a possible future for planetary exploration!

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If you have been to visit us at the National Space Centre you may have experienced our amazing immersive Venus exhibit. We take you on a futuristic journey through the dense, acidic atmosphere of the planet down towards the surface – with a good dollop of tension thrown in for good measure!
Image from the surface of Venus, taken by Venera 13, a Russian probe - from 1982

The wrap around projection screen with a curved front section gives you a realistic view of a journey towards the surface, all from the comfort of your own Venus air ship!

The concept of a Venus air ship is not so much one of science fiction, but it was based on real concepts for future Venus exploration.

Despite having a similar size and mass to the Earth, Venus is an incredibly hostile environment to humans. Crushing air pressure, sulphuric acid rain and oven-like temperatures make the surface of Venus uninhabitable for us. Robotic spacecraft sent to the surface do not fare well. The Russian Venera 13 craft holds the current record, eventually crushing and melting on the surface after 127 minutes.

This does not mean that humans will never explore Venus, but with the surface out of bounds, the solution may lie in crewed floating outposts!

A NASA concept called HAVOC (High Altitude Venus Operational Concept) proposes just this. At an altitude of 50km in Venus’ largely carbon dioxide atmosphere, there is a similar pressure, density, gravity and and radiation protection to that on the surface of the Earth. A lighter-than-air ship, much like a zeppelin could act as a floating platform for science experiments, or as a habitat for a small crew to conduct in situ experiments and research. It could also act as a launch point for specialised, pressure resistant ascent vehicles that would allow short explorations of the planet’s surface! It is thought that such a mission would require much less time than a crewed mission to Mars.

So next time you come to visit us at the National Space Centre, why not jump into our Venus experience and get a glimpse of a possible future for planetary exploration!