Watch: NASA Envisions Human Colony on Venus

By Epoch Video
Epoch Video
Epoch Video
December 20, 2014 Updated: December 21, 2014

[Transcript]

While Mars has been the primary target for space exploration, NASA is conducting a study to explore the possible human occupation of Venus’s upper atmosphere using airships.

The mission is mapped out around five distinct phases which start with robotic exploration followed by three crewed mission phases of varying lengths leading to permanent human residence in a cloud city.

The conditions on the surface of Venus are much different from Earth and Mars, including extremely high temperatures.

Landing on Venus always presented a challenge since ground temperatures reach around 930 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has 92 atmospheres of pressure, which is equivalent to that found almost a mile under the ocean.

However, NASA’s High Altitude Venus Operational Concept takes into consideration that Venus’s conditions are more hospitable around 31 miles above its surface.Its atmospheric temperature is around 167 degrees Fahrenheit, only 17 degrees hotter than the record temperature set on Earth, and gravity there is only slighter lower than Earth.

A benefit of exploring Venus over Mars for missions is its closer proximity to Earth. Round-trip travel to Venus would take 440 days, versus 650-900 days to Mars. Venus also has low levels of radiation comparable to those on Earth.

Mars, on the other hand, produces extremely high levels of radiation, which would necessitate underground habitats to limit exposure. According to experts, the amount of solar power available on Venus would offer enough energy to sustain a mission there.

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