Scientists At NASA Have Built A Tiny Version Of Hell On Earth!


Inside a windowless concrete room in Cleveland, Ohio, scientists have built a tiny version of Hell, and it is called the “Glenn Extreme Environments Rig” (GEER). Here’s why and how they did this.


The purpose is to be able to simulate the conditions on the surface of Venus.

This 14-ton steel chamber can recreate the toxic, choking, and scorching-hot conditions on the surface of Venus — a once-habitable twin of Earth gone very, very wrong.

Scientists at the NASA Glenn Research Center, where GEER is located, have been developing the project for the past 5 years.

And fired it up for the first time in 2014. Since then, researchers have lengthened their test runs and exposed 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 is to find out how to build spacecraft that can last months or even years on Venus instead of being destroyed instantly.

"One of the last probes to visit Venus was Venera 13 in [1982], and it only survived for about 2 hours and 7 minutes," said Gustavo Costa, a chemist and materials scientist who's working with GEER. "Venus is very, very corrosive."

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). Scientists 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.

In short, Venus today is probably the worst place to visit in the solar system, and simultaneously an important analog to better understand our own planet. We know this thanks to nearly two dozen successful missions there, including eight orbiters and 10 landers, most of them launched by the Soviet Union.

Here’s what we’ve learned about Venus so far thanks to GEER:

A mixing machine combines the known gasses on Venus and a powerful heater warms them up. "It takes two-and-a-half days to warm up and five days to cool down," Leah Nakley, GEER's lead engineer says.

"It's a super-critical fluid mixture, not just a gas," Costa says about the atmosphere of Venus.

Costa says walking around the surface of Venus would feel like walking through air that's as thick as a pool of water, at a pressure equivalent to being 328 feet (100 meters) underwater, and deadly hot.

The atmosphere of Venus also has trace amounts hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfuric acid; which are all extremely dangerous chemicals.

"Instead of having water vapor clouds, Venus has sulfuric acid clouds," Costa says.  "And you have to go through those to even get to the surface. That is terrifying."

Japan is currently the only nation with a spacecraft around Venus, called Akatsuki.

The US hasn't launched a mission dedicated to Venus since 1989 (the Magellan Orbiter) and hasn't landed anything on the world in more than 45 years.

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