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. 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. More via Huff Post UK.
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