The surface of Venus is, in scientific parlance, a complete hellhole. The atmosphere is full of acidic clouds. The surface temperature is hot enough to melt lead. The pressure is equivalent to being 3,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. Nobody in their right mind would ever, ever land on Venus. That’s why NASA wants to send blimps instead.
Yes, it sounds nuts, but it’s not the worst idea. In the upper reaches of Venus’ atmosphere, the pressure is equivalent to Earth and the temperature is… well, it’s 167 ° F, but that’s still better than being on a surface where the lead flows like water. The system, called HAVOC, would essentially put astronauts on blimps as they explored the upper atmosphere and got more data on the hot, angry little planet.
But that would just be the first step. The second would be to have regular missions and, finally, to establish a regular, ongoing colony in the clouds as a prelude to terraforming Venus into something less fatal. But in the meantime, they’d live in a cloud city. Permanently.
Granted, this is years away and the HAVOC project is still in the theoretical stage. But Venus is much closer than Mars, and honestly, space blimps are just too cool not to build. Furthermore, it’d be a good way to start terraforming, or at least figuring out what’s down there beyond acid and fire. Besides, founding a cloud city is pretty much the greatest thing we could ever do. Well, at least until the reenactment of the end of Empire went wrong, but hey, stuntmen should know better anyway.