An artist’s vision of the HAVOC airship approaching a set of pods floating in the atmosphere of Venus (NASA)

An artist’s vision of the HAVOC airship approaching a set of pods floating in the atmosphere of Venus (NASA)

The airship would parachute toward Venus. (NASA)

The airship would parachute toward Venus. (NASA)

A pod would open and the airship would unfold. (NASA)

A pod would open and the airship would unfold. (NASA)

The airship would inflate and float. (NASA)

The airship would inflate and float. (NASA)

An artist’s version of the view from inside the airship’s cabin (NASA)

An artist’s version of the view from inside the airship’s cabin (NASA)

Venus Trip

Posted: May 1, 2015

How about a vacation on Venus, Earth’s nearest neighbor? How about not! Venus may be a similar size to Earth, but the air there is 870 degrees hot—overkill for a summer tan. If you’re in the market for fresh air, Venus fails again—unless you like breathing sulfuric acid and carbon dioxide. Venus also has nothing for you to drink, much less swim in. Even worse, the pressure in the atmosphere would squish you as soon as you stepped out of your space ship! But guess what? Someone is planning a trip to Venus. His name is Chris Jones. He works for NASA.

Does Mr. Jones have his head in the clouds? Yes, and he plans to keep it there—in the clouds of Venus, that is. The clouds of Venus float about 31 miles above the planet’s surface. That altitude has similar air pressure, atmosphere, and gravity to Earth. What a perfect place to explore!

Mr. Jones and his colleagues have grand plans. They want to use ships lighter than air – airships filled with gas. The ships would spend just 30 days exploring the planet, but the whole journey will take 440 days. The airships would act like sailboats, riding Venus’s strong winds. The scientific instruments they carried could collect data about the planet.

The last balloon ship sent to Venus didn’t do too well. It only lasted a few days. But the new balloons should last for a month. That’s enough for them to circle Venus seven times!

Mr. Jones and his team hope eventually to send humans to Venus too. But all of their plans have a long way to go before someone carries them out. God designed Venus as a place filled with possibilities. (Could it ever support life, like Earth?) But God also designed people with limits. It will take lots of money and work even to go to Venus’s clouds!