It is conceptually possible for a human to go on a space walk around the upper atmosphere with nothing but an air supply and chemical hazard suit, like those worn following the chemical attack in Salisbury.
This is because between altitudes of 50 – 60km, Venus’ atmospheric pressure is around half that at Earth’s sea level, equivalent to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. It is also around 20 – 30°C, which is why NASA are currently planning a conceptual manned mission there named the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC).
Venus is often named Earth’s twin as they share a similar size, surface composition and atmosphere with complex weather system. Venus is only 30% closer to the Sun yet it has a much younger geological landscape with an average surface temperature of 460°C, which means it may rain molten bismuth and lead on some of its mountain peaks. The geological landscape formed by volcanoes is similar to Earth’s terrain and it is thought that it replicates the environment that Earth had much earlier in its life cycle.
Another similarity with ancient Earth are the sulphuric acid clouds found around the same atmospheric region as the planned HAVOC mission. These are responsible for the bright blue appearance of Venus and it reflects around 75% of incoming light. But they pose a challenge to any planned expedition due to their highly corrosive properties. This can be overcome though by coating an exterior components with Teflon and other plastics that are highly resistant. Plans are for an airship that would float around the desired atmospheric region, filled with breathable air which is less dense than the Venusian atmosphere.
Physics applicants can consider the geological history of the two planets and how their histories might have diverged. Chemistry applicants can research the properties of Teflon and other man-made materials with high resistance to corrosion and consider their uses.
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