From what I've seen, a floating habitat about 50 km above the surface of Venus is feasible--the atmosphere is dense enough that breathable air is a lifting gas, and that would be about the height for earth-type pressure.

On the downside, the air of Venus itself is unbreathable, consisting of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid. What protections would both a floating structure and a human body need to survive the atmosphere? What kinds of coatings would survive the amount of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere at that level?

In addition to a respirator with a supply of air, how substantial of a protection suit would a human need to operate outside for any length of time?

I am aware of the existing question about the feasibility of floating cities on Venus. I am focusing on the question of what materials would be useful for protection of both structures and human bodies, which that question does not address.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of What is the feasibility of a floating city on Venus? $\endgroup$
    – Mrkvička
    Feb 20, 2017 at 20:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Mrkvička, I did review that question. I'm focusing on specific materials needed to protect both a floating structure and human bodies, which that question does not go into. $\endgroup$ Feb 20, 2017 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough, my bad for not noticing the difference. $\endgroup$
    – Mrkvička
    Feb 20, 2017 at 21:28

2 Answers 2


While I cannot tell you exactly which materials you would need, I can help you figure out what type of protection (and other vital things) you would require for a floating Venusian residence.

1- Radiation Protection

Considering that you are high up in the Venusian atmosphere and that Venus is much closer to the sun than Earth and that Venus has no protective ozone layer, you would require complete protection against radiation. Without such protection, you would easily absorb enough radiation in one day to kill you with cancer and organ damage many times.

2- Breathing Apparatus

You have already mentioned it, so I will not go into much detail here. You would either need oxygen cylinder for each individual, or provide integrated equipment with each suit which filters the air for acidic and noxious gases (SO$_2$, CO$_2$ etc) and provides a constant supply of Earth-like air to breathe.

3- Temperature Maintenance

You would require built in air conditioning for every individual. Considering that Venus has a very thick atmosphere and it is very closer to the sun than Earth, the temperature would likely stay at least 10-15 °C higher than it is on Earth. So you would require air conditioning for everyone who ventures out into the atmosphere.

4- Jetpack

Yes, that. In case someone goes overboard the floating ship and falls to their horrible demise into the planet. A jetpack would enable them to immediately come up again to safety.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "kill you with cancer and organ damage many times." I'm not 100% sure, but I do believe that we can only get killed once ;) $\endgroup$
    – Mrkvička
    Feb 20, 2017 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ How much radiation would that be getting? Even though there's much less of a magnetic field and Venus has no ozone layer, as you mentioned, Landis' paper notes that there is still the same amount of atmospheric mass to absorb radiation as on the surface of Earth. $\endgroup$ Feb 20, 2017 at 21:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You don't know cat-people. They have more than 1 life ;) @Mrkvička $\endgroup$ Feb 20, 2017 at 22:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The same amount of atmospheric mass, correct. But remember, the colony is supposed to be built at the far upper edge of the Venusian atmosphere. You would by far not get enough atmospheric mass between you and the radiation, to feel safe. @AdamMiller $\endgroup$ Feb 20, 2017 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ The upper edge of the Venusian atmosphere where you can float a habitat is still under the same mass of atmosphere (maybe more) than the entire atmospheric thickness at Earth sea level. The problem is 1) closer to the sun so more radiation to filter out and 2) some gases (notably ozone) protect against UV better than others. I have no idea how good the Venusian atmosphere is at filtering radiation. $\endgroup$
    – Turksarama
    Feb 21, 2017 at 2:27

There are plenty of plastics and plastic coatings that will survive sulfuric acid. Metal will be all stainless steel and Monel (nickel plus copper) Probably.

You'd need to keep the gas from touching you, and the suit also needs to be resistant to wear. Full sealed suit is needed but a hermetic seal likely not as positive pressure can keep leaking in the outward direction. It's a hazmat suit, not a space suit.

Lots of polypropylene, Teflon, Viton rubber, PVC flexible plastic, etc are to be expected. None of these materials are super-expensive or exotic.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .