Billions of years ago, Venus may have had life-giving habitats similar to those that were once familiar on early Earth. Today, however, its surface is a fossil of volcanic destruction hiding beneath a dense toxic atmosphere. Scientists are discovering new strategies to explore Venus’s tortured landscape in search of clues from a time when the planet was alive, and answers to questions such as how did Venus descend into this hellish state and how did Earth manage to survive?
At the surface, the air is 95% carbon dioxide, dense, and hot enough to melt lead. Overhead thick clouds of sulfuric acid make it impossible for a spacecraft to last longer than two hours on Venus.
Thousands of years ago, Asian sky-watchers saw Venus as two separate stars: Beginner of Brightness in the mornings and Exalted Western One in the evenings. Sumerian priests saw it as one: goddess of sex, fertility, physical beauty, and attraction. To the Greeks, this was Aphrodite: the protector of those who sail and the Hellenic goddess of love. Roman leaders declared April the month of Venus throughout the Empire and honored purity and piety in affairs of the heart during the festival in her honor.
Across the Atlantic, Venus was seen as the little brother of the sun. For the Mesoamerican cultures, Venus was the male warrior with a spear who battled against enemies in the underworld. Around the world, Venus has had many different manifestations.
So far, there’s not a lot of information about Venus as researchers would want to have, but scientists are hoping that the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept will allow them to host a series of experiments and sensors that will reveal more about the planet. The venture is sort of a science city built in the clouds of Venus, airships that make their way through the sulfuric acid clouds with motors powered by the sun. Find out more now.