Friday, December 19, 2014



Remember when you were a kid and you dreamed of SciFi trips to alien worlds and living in floating cities way above the actual surface? Welcome to reality!

Granted Mars is carrying most of the colonization thoughts these days but that’s more because of things such as the atmospheric chemistry (very close to our own) or the temperature, -63 C (~82F) ; sure it’s not bright sunny beaches but compared to the other selections it is very tolerable! In addition there is the existence both on Earth and Mars (& somewhat the Moon) of large polar caps that are composed mostly of water. Still, there is the commute!

A bit closer and similar to the Earth in size, mass, density, and composition is her evil twin. Evil as in hellfires. I am speaking of Venus and NASA has some really cool ideas for her!

There is a very real possibility that our children or grandchildren could be living in the cloud – afloat in a city on a cloud.

Venus offers some less then desirable facts with surface temperatures reach 465C [that’s 870 F, FYI – the Sun burns that hot – haven’t considered living there!!] but floating in a cloud, sounds almost angelic and definitely not as hot. The clouds of Venus are very dense and when one gets up to about 50-60km (31 to 37 miles)and strangely at that height the atmosphere and temperatures are very similar to Earths. The atmosphere is in a state of vigorous circulation and super-rotation, forming the winds that blow as fast as 100 m/s (~220 mph).

While Venus is lacking a magnetic field, its ionosphere separates the solar wind & outer space from the atmosphere and excludes the solar magnetic field. This is described as Venus’s induced magnetosphere. Thanks possibly to runaway greenhouse gases although Venus was like Earth 4 billion years ago with water on the surface but alas now, with Venusian clouds that are thick and composed of sulfur dioxide with droplets of sulfuric acid – these clouds reflect 75% of the sunlight that hits them. This is good for one of NASA’s plans.

HAVOC or High Altitude Venus Operational Concept suggests doing what is always done – start with the robotic mission to take a dip in the ‘waters’ then a crewed orbital mission . Assuming success, the next phase is humans spending time floating up there in the clouds. A dirigible with solar panels (to collect some of that 75% sun perhaps on top and bottom of the dirigible) will be the craft of choice.

While there is still lots to consider a lot of the BIG thoughts have been taken care of. The radiation experienced would be the same as being any place on Earth, but the how to fill the ship with Helium once there, how to transfer humans to the ship(s), and more. Still, you got to admit, really cool idea!


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