Called the Glenn Extreme Environments Rig (GEER), the 14-ton steel chamber can faithfully recreate the toxic, choking, and scorching-hot conditions on the surface of Venus — a once-habitable twin of Earth gone very, very wrong.
The reason says researchers is to expose all kinds of metals, ceramics, wires, mesh, plating, and electronics to conditions on “Venus” to see what lasts — and what dissolves into dust.
Their hope? Learn how to build spacecraft that can last months or even years on Venus instead of being destroyed almost instantly.
The second planet from the sun was, and still is, very similar to Earth.
Venus is rocky and has roughly 82% the mass and 90% the surface gravity of Earth. It also has a persistent atmosphere and orbits in the sun’s “habitable zone” (where water can exist as a liquid). Some researchers think the planet once had warm, shallow oceans that were cozy to life for about 2 billion years. That could be about 1.2 billion years long enough for life to emerge and thrive, if you’re using Earth as a scorecard.
And yet its water vanished, carbon dioxide began clogging up the atmosphere, and — due to runaway global warming — the world was cooked to a crisp.
glenn extreme environments rig geer venus hell chamber inside nasa
The GEER chamber opened up. GEER/NASA Glenn Research Center
In short, Venus today is just about the worst place imaginable to visit in the solar system.