Can NASA's Venus mission avoid the planet's harsh conditions using hot air balloons? Here's how

Engineers from NASA explained how the agency can explore Venus' harsh environment using hot air balloons

A couple of engineers from NASA proposed a way that could allow the agency to launch a mission to Venus without being affected by the planet's harsh and inhospitable environment. According to the engineers, NASA could launch a Venus mission using hot air balloons.

This idea was proposed by Attila Komjathy and Siddhart Krishnamoorthy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is part of a series of proposals that NASA is considering a possible mission to Venus in the future.

Avoiding Venus's Harsh Environment

A vortex in the Venusian clouds. Although similar vortices are seen in our planet's atmosphere, it's the first time such a feature was spotted on Venus JAXA

For Komjathy and Krishnamoorthy's idea, specially designed hot air balloons will act as probes to explore Venus. In order to avoid the planet's extreme temperature and sulfuric clouds, which can destroy traditional landers and probes in a matter of hours, the engineers suggested deploying the balloons in the upper layer of Venus' atmosphere. This would enable it to circle the planet and collect data with its instruments without being directly affected by the harsh conditions near Venus' surface.

"The balloon is like the sweet spot, where you're close enough to get a lot of important stuff out but you're also in a much more benign environment where your sensors can actually last long enough to give you something meaningful," Krishnamoorthy said in a statement.

Possible Objective Of Venus Mission

Picture for representation
Handout image captured by Japan's satellite Hinode shows Venus moving to pass across the sun. Reuters

If the mission with the balloons proceeds, its main objective could involve studying the planet's seismic activities. For this kind of mission, the engineers proposed equipping the balloons with seismometers that would take readings from the alien planet's seismometers. Krishnamoorthy and Komjathy are confident that this would work since on Earth, earthquakes create ripples that travel to the atmosphere through infrasound waves.

Since Venus has a much denser atmosphere than Earth, the engineers believe that the balloons will be able to gather accurate and precise data regarding the seismic activities of the planet. "If the ground moves a little bit, it shakes the air a lot more on Venus than it does on Earth," Krishnamoorthy said.

Related topics : Nasa Space