12
   

NASA's plan for a floating city above Venus

 
 
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2014 11:04 pm
http://www.click2houston.com/image/view/-/30368228/medRes/2/-/maxh/360/maxw/640/-/r4n2q4/-/NASA-s-HAVOC-jpg.jpg
Also known as the morning star, and named after the goddess of love and beauty because it shone the brightest of the five planets known to ancient astronomers, Venus is a hot, sulphurous, hellish place whose surface has more volcanoes than any other planet in the solar system.

With a mean temperature of 462 degrees Celsius (863 degrees Fahrenheit), an atmospheric pressure 92 times greater than Earth's and a cloud layer of sulphuric acid, even probes to Venus have lasted little more than two hours. Its surface is hot enough to melt lead and its atmospheric pressure is the equivalent of diving a mile underwater.

But above this cauldron of carbon dioxide at an altitude of 50km (30 miles) scientists say the conditions are as close to Earth's as you'll find anywhere in the solar system.

The gravity at this altitude is only slightly lower than that of Earth, its atmospheric pressure is similar and the aerospace provides enough protection from solar radiation to make it no more dangerous than taking a trip to Canada.

Creating HAVOC

Known at NASA as HAVOC - High Altitude Venus Operational Concept - engineers and scientists at the Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, have been working on a preliminary feasibility study on how robots and humans could make a Venus mission a reality.

"The atmosphere of Venus is an exciting destination for both further scientific study and future human exploration," said aerospace engineer Christopher A. Jones of the Space Mission Analysis Branch.

"One concept is a lighter-than-air vehicle that could carry either a host of instruments and probes, or a habitat and ascent vehicle for a crew of two astronauts to explore Venus for up to a month."

He said the study showed the mission would require less time to complete than crewed missions to other planets and could even be a practice run for a Mars mission.

Closer to Earth

Venus has the advantage of being much closer to Earth. Its minimum distance to Earth is 38 million kilometers, compared with 54.6 million to Mars.

"The kind of multi-decade mission that we believe could succeed would be an evolutionary program for the exploration of Venus, with focus on the mission architecture and vehicle concept for a 30-day crewed mission into Venus's atmosphere," he said.

At the heart of the concept is the logistically difficult task of sending a spacecraft into the atmosphere of Venus without landing it.

The HAVOC model involves placing the astronauts inside an 'aeroshell' that would enter the atmosphere at 4,500 miles per second.

Decelerating during its descent to just 450 meters per second and then deploying a parachute, the shell would fall away to reveal a folded airship. Robotic arms would unfurl the blimp which would be inflated with helium to allow the airship to float 30 miles above the planet's fiery surface.

Jones said the key technical challenges for the mission include performing the "aerocapture" maneuvers at Venus and Earth (the process of entering the orbit of both planets), inserting and inflating the airships, and protecting the solar panels and structure from the sulphuric acid in the atmosphere.

"With advances in technology and further refinement of the concept, missions to the Venusian atmosphere can expand humanity's future in space," he said.

Permanent mission

Ultimately, NASA could seek a permanent manned presence in Venus's atmosphere.

Suspended in a gondola beneath the airships, astronauts would not have to contend with the physical challenges of zero gravity, where weightlessness causes muscles to wither and bones to demineralize.

And at a mere 167 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius) -- just 30 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth -- even current technology has the ability to contend with everything that Venus could throw at the mission.

Even so, HAVOC is envisioned as a multi-phase campaign and robotic missions would have to be sent to test technologies and better understand the atmosphere.

While NASA has no current plans to fund the concept, the Langley-based team continues its work with the hope the space agency could make the plan come to fruition within several decades.

"Eventually, a short duration human mission would allow us to gain experience having humans live at another world, with the hope that it would someday be possible to live in the atmosphere permanently," Jones said.

Read more from Tomorrow Transformed:
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 12 • Views: 2,985 • Replies: 59
No top replies

 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2014 08:58 am
Frankly, it seems inappropriate as our very first colonization effort. Why not put something on the Moon? It is infinitely closer, and working with dry land is easier.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2014 04:57 pm
@Brandon9000,
It makes for a cool graphic image though. And an interesting methodology to think about.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2014 08:23 pm
@rosborne979,
It certainly makes more sense than Mars. The lower gravity and exposure to solar radiation on Mars makes it a tough sell for humans.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2014 08:42 pm
The surface temperature and atmospheric pressure are much, much too high to survive.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2014 09:11 pm
quote:
But above this cauldron of carbon dioxide at an altitude of 50km (30 miles) scientists say the conditions are as close to Earth's as you'll find anywhere in the solar system.
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2014 09:40 pm
I like the idea. On the Moon, there's no protection from solar rays, etc, and there's the dust problem, which I understand is no small matter for engineers. Gravity is so weak there that long-term inhabitance would probably be difficult because of the changes to the body. Problem is, the public isn't all that interested in Venus, I think. Mars has held our collective curiosity much longer, and there's a great satisfaction in actually setting boots on soil, which would never happen on Venus.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  2  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2014 09:41 pm
Sounds like something Larry Niven would cook up. Maybe in The Integer Trees.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2014 09:44 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:
Sounds like something Larry Niven would cook up. Maybe in The Integer Trees.

I have that book, but it's just about the only pure Niven novel I haven't read.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2014 09:57 pm
@Brandon9000,
Actually, the environment was so far outside the norm I couldn't get my teeth into it. I did read it, though.

I think the Niven/Pournelle collaborations are better than either working alone. I kind of had a feeling you would be familiar with his work.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2014 11:25 pm
@roger,
The Niven Pournelle collaborations are very good, although I am not sure I would call them better than Niven's early solo work. The later collaborations with Edward Lerner are also very good (e.g. Fleet of Worlds).
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Dec, 2014 04:11 am
I personally think this entire idea is crazy as hell. Your "floating city" would have to stay airborne, or face reapid disaster as it sank into crushing atmospheric pressure and searing heat. Someone here mentioned the exposure to radiation on Mars. You would certainly have to dig a hole and live in it, but there would be no potential disaster awaiting you as there would be on Venus. If we planned to terraform Mars, creating a breathable atmosphere would also solve the problem of exposure to radiation. Five hundred millibars of atmospheric pressure at mean surface level would take care of that. Trying to terraform Venus would be a nightmare.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Dec, 2014 08:55 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
I personally think this entire idea is crazy as hell. Your "floating city" would have to stay airborne, or face reapid disaster as it sank into crushing atmospheric pressure and searing heat. Someone here mentioned the exposure to radiation on Mars. You would certainly have to dig a hole and live in it, but there would be no potential disaster awaiting you as there would be on Venus. If we planned to terraform Mars, creating a breathable atmosphere would also solve the problem of exposure to radiation. Five hundred millibars of atmospheric pressure at mean surface level would take care of that. Trying to terraform Venus would be a nightmare.

I agree completely. The idea that this should be our first attempt at colonization seems crazy.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Dec, 2014 09:54 am
@Setanta,
Also, isn't the whole point of investigating a planet, to actually get to the planet? Floating over Venus might be a great way to analyze the atmosphere and it would be an awesome accomplishment (just like all the exploration missions), but we still wouldn't get to "touch" the surface of Venus.

I'm much more entertained by crawling (and digging) around on Mars than I would be by floating over Venus. And more importantly, I think we will learn more.

Mars is becoming more interesting by the day with an increasing probability of microbial life producing methane plumes. If there's anything alive on Venus, and if we could even get close enough to find it, I'm not sure we would recognize it as life given the conditions it would be living in. I think we should save the "Cloud City" for a future day, and keep digging on Mars and start planning some asteroid mining missions. The sooner we can start hollowing out some asteroids the sooner we will open the door to the future of space exploration.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Dec, 2014 06:59 pm
@rosborne979,
Yeah, i agree about that. Carl Sagan did his doctoral dissertation on conditions on Venus. The Russians had announced that they had reached the surface, but Sagan disagreed, saying that their probe had been crushed long before it reached the surface. They sneered at him, saying, in effect, who knew more about Venus than the Soviets? But they were paying attention. Later Venera missions had much more strongly built probes. Oce landed and sent back radio signals until it was crushed by the atmospheric pressure. The next mission landed, and sent back grainy television images for about 20 minutes before it was crushed. No one should undervalue the Soviet effort; nor should Sagan's work be undervalued either--he predicted a surface pressure of 90 bars (almost exactly the case) and a surface temperature of between 400 and 500 C. A sterling example of science at its best, his predictions were confirmed by the later Soviet missions.

By contrast, Mars has been a pretty damned busy place, and i agree that we continually learn more and more about it. I'm ambivalent about the possibility of life there or on Titan. Although we might refrain from destroying a higher order, sentient community of life, i'm less concerned about microbial communities. Frankly, i think we should get busy with the Martian atmosphere. At 500 millibars, it would be possible to liver at the lower altitudes and be protected from the radiation. Hey . . . we ain't gettin' any younger, we need to get busy.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Dec, 2014 08:19 pm
http://www.techtimes.com/articles/23321/20141227/nasa-looks-back-at-2014-from-earth-to-mars-and-beyond.htm

As 2014 draws to a close, NASA looks back at the greatest advances in space accomplished over the last 12 months.

Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, told the press the space agency is developing environmentally-friendly fuels, and is studying the Earth, monitoring the environment. In the coming years, the goal of human space flight will be Mars, according to Bolden.

"We moved forward on our work to create quieter, greener airplanes and develop technologies to make air travel more efficient; and we advanced our study of our changing home planet, Earth, while increasing our understanding of others in our solar system and beyond," Bolden said.


The Orion spacecraft, the first vehicle ever built capable of taking humans to the Red Planet, underwent its first test flight in December 2014, albeit with no one on board. This was the first time since the Apollo project that NASA has sent a vehicle capable of carrying humans past low-Earth orbit, the operating altitudes of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

The Space Launch System (SLS), the booster rocket that will launch Orion on the way to deep space, also progressed into its development phase in 2014. That massive booster will be constructed at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where installation of tools needed for the project was completed during 2014. During the initial test flight of the spacecraft, the vehicle lifted off on top of a Delta 4 heavy rocket.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (Maven) entered orbit around Mars on September 21, where the observatory is taking part in studying the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet. It became one of a fleet of vehicles that recorded the October flyby of a comet past Mars.

The Mars Rover 2020 was also announced by NASA in the last year. That automated vehicle will roam the Martian surface investigating conditions in advance of a human mission to the planet in the 2030's.

In April, astronomers using the Kepler space telescope announced the discovery of the first Earth-sized planet ever found in the habitable zone of an alien system. This is the distance from a star at which conditions are likely to create conditions where liquid water could exist.

Satellites systems tested by the space agency in 2014 include controlling spacecraft with smartphones and navigation using "green fuels."

Some of the technologies developed by NASA have direct benefit here on Earth. The Terminal Sequencing and Spacing system developed by the space agency will provide air traffic controllers with advanced tools to better manage flights.

Five new Earth science missions launched in 2014, the greatest rate accomplished in more than a decade.
0 Replies
 
TheJackal
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2014 01:07 am
@Setanta,
Actually it could be done with organism that could survive the high temperatures and pressures to which consume Venus's toxic atmosphere and convert it to oxygen or fix carbon into organic forms.. Hence convert the carbon into solids and at the same time reduce atmospheric pressure and the runaway greenhouse effect. It wouldn't be easier than it would to terraform Mars, but it could be done. Provided of course that the microbes could keep up with out gassing from it's extensive active volcanoes, and find trapped and abundant sources of water.

Birch, P. “Terraforming Venus Quickly” Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. 1991. Volume 44. p. 157-167
http://www.orionsarm.com/fm_store/TerraformingVenusQuickly.pdf

However, I think one of the biggest problems is that neither Mars or Venus have a magnetic field protecting them from solar radiation, solar flares, and or high energy particles.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2014 01:28 am
@TheJackal,
TheJackal wrote:
Actually it could be done with organism that could survive the high temperatures and pressures to which consume Venus's toxic atmosphere and convert it to oxygen or fix carbon into organic forms.. Hence convert the carbon into solids and at the same time reduce atmospheric pressure and the runaway greenhouse effect. It wouldn't be easier than it would to terraform Mars, but it could be done. Provided of course that the microbes could keep up with out gassing from it's extensive active volcanoes, and find trapped and abundant sources of water.

Birch, P. “Terraforming Venus Quickly” Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. 1991. Volume 44. p. 157-167
http://www.orionsarm.com/fm_store/TerraformingVenusQuickly.pdf

However, I think one of the biggest problems is that neither Mars or Venus have a magnetic field protecting them from solar radiation, solar flares, and or high energy particles.


One of the bigger problems is that terraforming an entire world is a huge job, much, much harder then merely building a colony.
TheJackal
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2014 01:49 am
@Brandon9000,
I would agree, and it wouldn't be a single generation effort either. However, should we not do so because it's hard? It's like saying should I learn science if it is difficult and live in ignorance due to intellectual laziness? I don't think any scientists is under the impression that such an undertaking would be simple as pouring their bowl of cereal in the morning. And to be honest, if your species is to survive and further evolve, we will have to leave Earth. I argue this even knowing that it is unlikely, in my view, that we will survive as species without destroying ourselves over the next few thousand years. Yeah I don't have much faith in humanity..

However, and should we manage to not destroy ourselves, we have the geological time frame of about 1.5 billion years before our star begins to burn more helium than hydrogen.. Hence the sun will begin to get much hotter to where life on Earth will effectively be left to extremophiles until conditions exceed the possibility of any life on Earth. So at some point, this being if we are still around, we will need to begin our advancement into our solar system and beyond. Especially giving that Earth will most likely experience a few mass extinction events or impacts long before the sun starts it's death throws.

Thus to me, it's worth it even if it is difficult, or costs us lives..
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2014 01:57 am
@TheJackal,
TheJackal wrote:
I would agree, and it wouldn't be a single generation effort either. However, should we not do so because it's hard? It's like saying should I learn science if it is difficult and live in ignorance due to intellectual laziness? I don't think any scientists is under the impression that such an undertaking would be simple as pouring their bowl of cereal in the morning. And to be honest, if your species is to survive and further evolve, we will have to leave Earth. I argue this even knowing that it is unlikely, in my view, that we will survive as species without destroying ourselves over the next few thousand years. Yeah I don't have much faith in humanity..

However, and should we manage to not destroy ourselves, we have the geological time frame of about 1.5 billion years before our star begins to burn more helium than hydrogen.. Hence the sun will begin to get much hotter to where life on Earth will effectively be left to extremophiles until conditions exceed the possibility of any life on Earth. So at some point, this being if we are still around, we will need to begin our advancement into our solar system and beyond. Especially giving that Earth will most likely experience a few mass extinction events or impacts long before the sun starts it's death throws.

Thus to me, it's worth it even if it is difficult, or costs us lives..

It's worth it to do it eventually. But here we're talking about taking our first baby steps in to space, so why contemplate doing something a million times as hard now? We're not yet up to making a colony on the Moon, but let's plan to launch thousands of people to the stars now? No, it's not sensible. We have to build a path to those things.
 

Related Topics

New Propulsion, the "EM Drive" - Question by TomTomBinks
The Science Thread - Discussion by Wilso
Why do people deny evolution? - Question by JimmyJ
Are we alone in the universe? - Discussion by Jpsy
Fake Science Journals - Discussion by rosborne979
Controvertial "Proof" of Multiverse! - Discussion by littlek
 
  1. Forums
  2. » NASA's plan for a floating city above Venus
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 09/22/2019 at 08:20:00