Venus exploration has been deemed off-limits due to its inhospitable climate -- but NASA believes Cloud City may be the answer.

Artistic concept of the permanent city. NASA Langley Research Center
Artistic concept of the permanent city. NASA Langley Research Center © NASA Langley Research Center

The High Altitude Venus Operational Concept -- HAVOC -- is a conceptual spacecraft designed by a team at the Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate1 at NASA Langley Research Center for the purposes of Venusian exploration. This lighter-than-air rocket would be designed to sit above the acidic clouds for a period of around 30 days, allowing a team of astronauts to collect data about the planet's atmosphere.

While the surface of Venus would destroy a human, hovering above its clouds at an altitude of around 50 kilometres (30 miles) is a set of conditions similar to Earth. Its atmospheric pressure is comparable, and gravity is only slightly lower -- which would allow longer-term stays, effectively eliminating the ailments that occur during long-term stays in zero G. Temperature is about 75 degrees Celsius, which is hotter than is strictly comfortable, but would still be manageable. Finally, the atmosphere at that altitude offers protection from solar radiation comparable to living in Canada.


Extreme Environment Simulation - Current and New Capabilities to Simulate Venus and Other Planetary Bodies - NASA Tech Report2

NTRS Full-Text: Click to View  [PDF Size: 1.3 MB]

Author and Affiliation:

  1. Kremic, Tibor(NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH United States);
  2. Vento, Dan(NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH United States);
  3. Lalli, Nick(NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH United States);
  4. Palinski, Timothy(NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH United States)

Abstract: Science, technology, and planetary mission communities have a growing interest in components and systems that are capable of working in extreme (high) temperature and pressure conditions. Terrestrial applications range from scientific research, aerospace, defense, automotive systems, energy storage and power distribution, deep mining and others. As the target environments get increasingly extreme, capabilities to develop and test the sensors and systems designed to operate in such environments will be required. An application of particular importance to the planetary science community is the ability for a robotic lander to survive on the Venus surface where pressures are nearly 100 times that of Earth and temperatures approach 500C. The scientific importance and relevance of Venus missions are stated in the current Planetary Decadal Survey. Further, several missions to Venus were proposed in the most recent Discovery call. Despite this interest, the ability to accurately simulate Venus conditions at a scale that can test and validate instruments and spacecraft systems and accurately simulate the Venus atmosphere has been lacking. This paper discusses and compares the capabilities that are known to exist within and outside the United States to simulate the extreme environmental conditions found in terrestrial or planetary surfaces including the Venus atmosphere and surface. The paper then focuses on discussing the recent additional capability found in the NASA Glenn Extreme Environment Rig (GEER). The GEER, located at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, is designed to simulate not only the temperature and pressure extremes described, but can also accurately reproduce the atmospheric compositions of bodies in the solar system including those with acidic and hazardous elements. GEER capabilities and characteristics are described along with operational considerations relevant to potential users. The paper presents initial operating results and concludes with a sampling of investigations or tests that have been requested or expected.

Publication Date: Mar 01, 2014

Document ID: 20140013390  (Acquired Dec 19, 2014)


Report/Patent Number: GRC-E-DAA-TN11995

Document Type: Conference Paper

Meeting Information: IEEE Aerospace Conference; 1-8 Mar. 2014; Big Sky, Mt; United States

Meeting Sponsor: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; Piscataway, NJ, United States
American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Reston, VA, United States
PHM Society; New York, NY, United States

Contract/Grant/Task Num: WBS 526310.04.02.08

Financial Sponsor: NASA Glenn Research Center; Cleveland, OH United States

Organization Source: NASA Glenn Research Center; Cleveland, OH United States

Description: 9p; In English; Original contains color and black and white illustrations

Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited

Rights: No Copyright