Venus is an incredibly hot and desolate planet that has taken away the “life” of several space probes, making it difficult to study,media reported. Still, NASA hopes to investigate the planet in the near future to better understand its history and what has changed so dramatically about its environment. And balloons may be the key to this task.
From the 1960s to the 1980s, the Soviet Union sent nine probes to Venus, all of which lost signal about two hours after landing. Part of the reason for the damage was that Venus became very desolate. Although its environment may have been similar to that of today’s Earth, Venus now has a surface temperature of 500 degrees Celsius, a atmospheric pressure of about 90 times the Earth’s atmosphere, and is full of corrosive sulfur clouds.
The study of Venus will help researchers understand why it has gone from an Earth-like planet to one with many volcanoes, huge mountains and the hottest planet in the solar system. Orbiters that remain in space around the planet will be a way to study the object, but they have many limitations. That’s where the balloon might come in.
NASA JPL detailed the idea last week, explaining that balloons can carry instruments and move in the wind to collect data on hot planets below. This information can then be passed to orbiters near the planet and sent back to humans on Earth. NASA is already working on a prototype lander and balloon, but it hasn’t been finalized yet.
NASA may one day develop a “thermal technology” that will allow the lander to run on the planet for days or weeks. However, JPL researchers used current technology to explain that the lander could fail in as little as a few hours due to the high temperatures. JPL is home to the large Venus Test Chamber, which tests these new technologies by mimicking Venus’ oppressive conditions.