NASA has embarked on a project to gauge the viability of hoisting a floating outpost over Venus, one of the solar system’s harshest places.
The mission would involve sending a spacecraft into the Venusian atmosphere—as opposed to the surface—and then inflating an airship-like vehicle that would hover 30 miles above the scorching, smoggy planet.
A gondola will house a two-member crew for a month. The environment at that altitude is relatively benign, with a temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
But down below, at a fiery 870 degrees, it’s hot enough to melt lead. The pressure is crushing. Ferocious winds, roar at 220 m.p.h., whipping about opaque clouds, saturated with corrosive sulfuric acid.
One advantage of this mission is that a trip to Venus would take less time than one to Mars.