Last month, NASA scientists announced their intention to send specially adapted hot air balloons to Venus as part of ongoing international research into the composition of the mysterious orb.
Venus is the second planet from the sun, and because it shares many characteristics with the Earth in terms of distance from the sun, size, and mass, it is often referred to as the Earth’s ‘sister planet’. Despite these similarities, Venus hosts an unbreathable atmosphere that is almost entirely composed of carbon dioxide and it is cloaked in in clouds of sulphuric acid. With a surface temperature that can exceed 462 °C, it makes for a very inhospitable environment for human life. This is where the hot air balloons come in.
In an ingenious use of this classic aeronautical exploration device, scientists hope that unmanned hot air balloons can help them to detect seismic and volcanic activity on the planet to learn more about why this ‘sister planet’ evolved so differently to the Earth.
Scientists say hot air balloons are ideal to do this work as they can carry the necessary barometers to measure the waves, and they are able to float far in enough from the surface of the planet to escape the hostile conditions of the planet for long enough to collect some data and send it back to Earth.
Hot air balloons are not always used for such audacious experiments. If you want to get a taste of the excitement of hot air ballooning without leaving the Earth’s rather more hospitable atmosphere, then closer to home, hot air balloon adventures in Bath, Gloucester, and South Wales await you.