We have tried Mars, and maybe we can try Venus. This seems like a familiar phrase, only it’s the other way around. It’s from an old love song called ‘Hey Little Star’ by Dell Shannon, one of the most popular singers of the 1960s.
We seem to know a little bit more about Mars than any other planet. Unmanned missions have given us more information about the red planet than any other planet in our solar system. Is it suitable for human survival? Given the data from the previous trips there, it’s possible to live there; but is it the only choice? We may have a better alternative with Earth’s twin planet, Venus.
Mars may be too harsh. By its name alone, taken from the god of war; it may be better to go to Venus and explore the planet which bears the name of the goddess of beauty. It’s nearer than Mars and there could be more favorable conditions there to warrant more exploratory trips.
The average distance between Mars and Earth is 225 million kilometers. The average distance between Venus and Earth is only 170. 54 million miles. It’s nearer to us but it is also nearer to the sun. That’s why it’s more visible at night: due to the sun’s reflective light. Its 108,200,000 kilometers from the sun. The earth is 149, 600, 000 kilometers and Mars is 249,000,000 kilometers from the sun.
That said, man may find Venus is too hot to live in. It might be more beautiful to look at than Mars, but the conditions there make it impossible for us to inhabit. How can our flesh withstand 800 degrees Fahrenheit and above? The heat used for making tires is only 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and that’s very hot already. Imagine more than doubling that. The presence of sulfur in the atmosphere will also choke us to death. The acidic rain will be another problem. And to top it all off, the atmospheric pressure is 92 times greater than what have here on Earth.
No probes can explore the planet long, but there’s a way of customizing them.
Given all its attributes, on Venus itself, it’s really difficult to survive on ground zero. However, about 30 miles away from the surface, things seem to be looking good for us. The atmospheric conditions are almost similar to here on Earth. There’s no other place in our galaxy that will approximate our own planet in that location.
The gravity that far is just a tad lower than that of Earth’s and more crucial is the fact that the atmospheric pressure there is almost the same as our planet’s, and there’s more protection from solar radiation to boot.
In this connection, NASA has created HAVOC or the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept. Essentially, it would be a sequence of dirigible-like transport vehicles that will allow astronauts to explore Venus at close range for 30 days and beyond in an atmosphere where they can survive.
There is now ongoing work by NASA, constructing the prototypes which will later serve as models on how the work is going to proceed.
The goddess of beauty won’t be denied after all.