Of all the rocky, inner worlds of the solar system, Venus is the most challenging to explore.
With surface temperatures reaching a bewildering 867 degrees Fahrenheit (464 degrees Celsius), even the most hardened landers can’t survive for long. But a new idea, called the Calypso Venus Scout, calls for a bold new mission design: a science probe dangling 20 miles (32 kilometers) below a cloud-borne balloon.
Welcome to hell
Because Venus is only slightly smaller than our own planet, it’s taken up the nickname of the “Earth’s twin.” But if Venus really is a twin of the Earth, it’s the evil kind. Despite their similar sizes, the two worlds couldn’t be more different. While Earth maintains a balmy climate, with a decent atmosphere keeping the lid on vast expanses of liquid water oceans, Venus is a nightmare world.
Related: Venus, once billed as Earth’s twin, is a hothouse (and