Should we live with our heads’ in the clouds? – Colonising Venus

Left - Statue of the Roman God Mars Right - Painting of Roman Goddess Venus

Left – Statue of the Roman God Mars
Right – Painting of Roman Goddess Venus

Mars, Mars, Mars. That’s all you hear when talking planetary colonisation, but is Mars really a better option than our sister planet Venus? The Romans named Venus, the brightest planet in the sky, after the God of love and beauty. The planet Mars aka “the red planet”  was named after the God of war. Are these names fitting? Let’s list a few facts for both planets.

Mars (surface) Venus (surface)
Distance from earth (km) 78,340,000 41,400,000
Temperature (°C) -87 to -5 462
Gravity (m/s²) 3.711 8.87
Pressure (% of Earth’s Atmosphere) 1 9000
Length of a day 1d 0h 40m 116d 18h 0m

If we consider the facts above, the likely candidate for colonisation is quite obviously Mars. Venus seems to be incredibly uninhabitable, with it’s high temperature and probe crushing pressure. However if we consider the area roughly 30 miles above the surface, things start to look a whole lot more earth-like and the Roman depictions start to make more sense. Lets look at that table again.

Mars (surface) Venus (30 miles up)
Distance from earth (km) 78,340,000 41,400,000
Temperature (°C) -87 to -5 0-50
Gravity (m/s²) 3.711 8.87
Pressure (% of Earth’s Atmosphere) 1 ~100
Length of a day 1d 0h 40m 116d 18h 0m

The temperature has decreased to a manageable level and the pressure has decreased to almost exactly 1 earth atmosphere. This leaves us with potentially the most earth-like environment in the solar system. Even if it doesn’t look like it.

Venuspioneeruv

How does this relate to colonisation? 

Travel time is one of the biggest factors in today’s space expeditions. The further away a potentially habitable zone is the more supplies we must bring for the journey. As Venus is the closest planet to us supplies for the journey would be minimal. The ability to send additional colonists and supplies may also be invaluable as we are sure to encounter many unexpected problems on our first mission of this type.

Launch windows are the windows of time when a spacecraft must be launched to hit it’s intended target. Venus has a launch window once roughly every 19 months compared to Mars’ 26 months. This adds to the freedom of resupplies and additional manpower missions to our new found colonies.

Venus has earth-like gravity and an atmosphere! It’s all well and good setting up a colony on a planet, but keeping them alive is another matter. The thick CO2 rich atmosphere of Venus can shield our colonists from dangerous radiation and solar storms much like the atmosphere on Earth. Combine this with not having the long-term effects of low-gravity as is the case on Mars and we can see that Venus could be our best bet for interplanetary colonisation.

 

How are we going to live 30 miles above the surface?

Airships or simply giant balloons full of people may one day call the clouds of Venus their home. The pressure as mentioned before is almost exactly like Earth’s leading to a relatively simple design much like airships at home.

Solar Power will be the main way we acquire energy on our sister planet. We can acquire up to four times from solar energy on Venus than on Earth in the same amount of time.

Growing food is easily done on Venus due to it’s primarily CO2 atmosphere. While gaining breathable air is still a distant dream. Robert Walker explains that nothing short of terraforming the planet will currently allow humans breathe without equipment on Venus.

The conclusion is up to you, has the cloud city got more potential than Mars? Or is the media right in publicising Mars?

 

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