Saturday, March 23, 2013

Could you fly an electric Cessna on Venus?

"The atmosphere on Venus is over 60 times denser than Earth’s, which is thick enough that a Cessna moving at running speed would rise into the air. Unfortunately, the air it’s rising into is hot enough to melt lead. The paint would start melting off in seconds, the plane’s components would fail rapidly, and the plane would glide gently into the ground as it came apart under the heat stress.

A much better bet would be to fly above the clouds. While Venus’s surface is awful, its upper atmosphere is surprisingly Earth-like. 55 kilometres up, a human could survive with an oxygen mask and a protective wet-suit; the air is room temperature and the pressure is similar to that on Earth mountains. You need the wet-suit, though, to protect you from the sulfuric acid.

The acid's no fun, but it turns out the area right above the clouds is a great environment for an airplane, as long as it has no exposed metal to be corroded away by the sulfuric acid. And is capable of flight in constant Category-5-hurricane-level winds, which are another thing I forgot to mention earlier."

From a what-if article here.

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