Can A Hot Air Balloon Work On The Moon? – Our Guide
If you’re curious as to how hot air balloons work then you might be wondering if they can work on the moon or if they wouldn’t be able to float.
A hot air balloon would not be able to work on the moon due to the little density inside the balloon compared to the outside air, on the moon, there is no air, so the balloon would not be able to rise above it.
In our guide below, we will discuss how hot air balloons work, what scientific balloons NASA use and how high hot air balloons can travel.
How Do Hot Air Balloons Rise?
Before we can discuss more about the moons and hot air balloons, we must first understand how hot air balloons work, to begin with.
Hot air balloons rise through a term called buoyancy, this buoyancy happens when the air on the inside of the balloon is heated which makes it less dense than the outside air, allowing it to float.
This works because hot air rises, as soon as the pilot starts to let hot air out of the balloon it will start to float back down as the air cools down to match the temperature on the outside. One place a hot air balloon might rise is on Jupiter since the atmosphere there is mainly hydrogen.
Would A Helium Balloon Rise On The Moon?
If a hot air balloon can’t rise on the moon, what about a standard helium balloon, will it rise or fall?
The same as a hot air balloon, a helium balloon will not be able to rise on the moon since there is no atmosphere, even in a space station, the atmosphere levels are kept the same as the sea, so the balloon would not rise and simply hang in space instead.
On Mars, it might be possible to fly a helium balloon if the mass is kept small due to Co2 in the atmosphere.
What Scientific Balloons Does Nasa Use?
If you’ve been doing your research about hot air balloons and space, you might have come across NASA’s hot air balloons and wondered how they work. NASA has been using their scientific balloons for a while to help get scientific payloads into the air.
NASA uses two types of balloons for this job to help get high in the atmosphere, both of the balloons have a polyethene material and are a size of around 40 million cubic feet with helium gas inside.
- Zero pressure – These balloons have ducts at the bottom which allow gas to travel out and stop too much pressure from building up inside of the balloon when it travels beyond the earth. This balloon is used for short trips because of its gas loss.
- Super pressure – Super pressure hot air balloons are sealed which enables them to travel longer distances, these are also called pumpkin balloons.
How High Can A Hot Air Balloon Rise?
Hot air balloons can typically reach between 1000-3000 feet for a standard flight, however, the highest a hot air balloon has ever gone is up to 68,986 feet.
Most ballooning pilots keep their balloons between 1000-3000 feet due to planes and because of unstable weather conditions such as strong winds. For distance, a balloon can keep going until the fuel runs out or weather conditions become too unstable.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hot Air Balloons & The Moon
When do you need oxygen on a hot air balloon?
You would not need oxygen support when riding in a hot air balloon unless you were flying above 12,000 feet, since most balloons stick between 1000 and 3000 feet oxygen is never needed.
Are hot air balloon rides scary?
Surprisingly hot air balloons are not that scary, this is because you float at a very slow speed in the air meaning you don’t get motion sickness or vertigo feeling like you would when standing on a tall building looking at the horizon line.
Could a hot air balloon fly to the moon?
No, unfortunately, although a hot air balloon can fly very high, as the atmosphere gets thinner it will eventually come back down due to the air pressure since the density will start to match the surrounding air.
Would a balloon explode in space?
A balloon would eventually burst as it flies up to high altitudes, this is why weather balloons eventually can burst since there is less air pressure on the outside of the balloon allowing the gas to expand and bursting the thin material of the balloon.
To conclude, a hot air balloon will not work on the moon since there is no air/atmosphere, the density of the inside of the balloon would be no different to the outside stopping it from floating. The highest a hot air balloon has ever gone is 68,986 feet but most standard balloons are kept between 1000-3000 feet.
I’m Annie, a twenty-something year old girl who loves hot air balloons. So much so, that I have a full time job as a Flight Instructor and it is all I love talking about. Something about being up there in the elevated altitudes helps all my stresses float away!