Planetary Balloons: Invited Presentation for the Alvin Seiff Award
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Scientific use of balloons provided in the 19th century the exploration of the Earth's atmosphere. The development at Minneapolis in the 1950s of polyethylene aerostats led tot he extensive use of these vehicles for atmospheric and astrophysical researches with the development of new systems as super-pressurized balloons, infrared Montgolfieres and aerodippers (floating on an ocean). Balloons offer the only possibility today to of a long-duration voyage in the atmospheres of Venus, Mars and Titan. Up to now, only in Venus' atmosphere have balloons been deployed; the story of this Soviet feat will be told with a view to the future exploration of Venus. Titan being the best place for balloon deployment in the Solar System, it is hoped that they will form the backbone of the exploration of Saturn's satellite in the not too distant future. Mars offers a major challenge for ballooning. Ways and means to overcome the obstacles to flying over the red planet will be discussed.