TECH

NASA Investigates Manned Mission To Venus

19/12/2014 11:01 GMT | Updated 19/12/2014 11:59 GMT

NASA has issued a report outlining the possibilities of humans visiting Venus in the not-insanely-distant future.

The surface of the second-closest planet to the Sun (and our nearest neighbour) is totally inhospitable for humans (or anything else).

But it has long been noted that the atmosphere of Venus might actually be a pretty great place to go. There's no air, as such, but the conditions are almost perfect for creating mini 'cloud cities' which would float naturally 50km above the planet.

venus space station

That's because the atmospheric pressure at that height is pretty similar to Earth. So is the gravity. There's no air but there's plenty of useful gasses to make fuel, and the temperature is pretty lovely - about 75 degrees Celcius.

Best of all, there's little radiation. Compared to Mars, where radiation is 40 times higher than on Earth, the amount astronauts would receive above Venus is roughly similar to the levels you would receive in Canada.

Now NASA is looking more seriously into the idea. The report by its Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate outlines how a 'High Altitude Venus Operational Concept' (a blimp) could travel around the planet and help astronauts do research.

It's fascinating. Though not without issues. For one, no one knows how to get enough stuff to Venus to do the mission - and getting back is even more difficult.

The rough plan would be to send various robotic inflatables first, followed by unmanned supply missions and eventually a crew via an orbiting space craft, which could in turn accept returning astronauts and then blast them back to Earth.

This is expensive.

That said, going to Mars is almost as difficult and we seem pretty keen on doing that before the century is finished. Venus might be slightly easier. So… let's just do that too?

Here are five reasons that building a space station on Venus isn't totally crazy: