For years now, humanity is looking to the stars and beyond to find the answers to their biggest problems. With the earth being polluted and humanity seeking out a new home, we set our sails to the stars in search of a place to call home. With the moon being our first plan that was discarded. Mars, the red planet in the sky is society’s next vacation of choice but… perhaps we should be taking a closer look a Venus instead.
The Martian Planet
Currently, Mars is the rave of the scientific community. This is probably because, from the outside, Mars looks fairly livable compared to Earth. It’s been a huge mission to colonize mars ever since the 1950’s when the idea started to arise. We even decided to go to mars over the moon because of the promise that it had.
Each day on Mars is only 40 minutes longer than normal meaning that schedules wouldn’t have to be adjusted a ton to compensate. Now getting there would take around 7 months which means that the overall journey would be able to be course-corrected or changed as needed to ensure a proper landing.
Mars has a few problems, however. As it stands out of the now 56 missions to the red planet, only 46% of them succeeded. This is due to the high error involved in every mission along with the number of glitches and faulty hardware. One of the funniest being NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter which after 10 months of travel was crashed into the planet after navigation calculations were not converted from customary to metric.
Another big issue with Mars is the lack of atmosphere. Almost 96.5% of it is carbon dioxide and another 3.5% is nitrogen which isn’t exactly breathable. With this in mind, slowing down when landing becomes a much harder task due to the lack of friction in the atmosphere to slow spacecraft down. Plus, without a magnetic field, you’re right front and center for your body to be bombarded with solar radiation leading to your DNA being destroyed and mutated at a cellular level. By the way, Mars is red because of the rust from the carbon dioxide. Don’t think that just because it’s red that it is somehow warm. It is much farther away from the sun so you can expect frigid temperatures around -193F or -125C To put that in perspective, liquid nitrogen is around -320F or -192C.
Along with that, Mars has the big issue of having a third of the gravity Earth does due to its relatively smaller size. This leads to the same problem that astronauts gain when traveling in space. Usually, our bones are strong because of the constant strain that Earth’s gravity puts on them. In space and on Mars the constant strain is gone. Our bodies don’t have to try as hard and as a result, have weaker bones. Soon, you would have brittle bones meaning that a small fall could lead to a bone-breaking easily. We’re still looking for a way to combat this.
Now Venus on the other hand is much different from Mars. Venus was always an outlier. It is the only planet named after a female goddess which is the goddess of love. Venus used to be lush. A predicted water world of sorts filled with life. However, after being moved out of the habitable zone, Venus was never quite the same. Now the planet is the hostage of a run-away greenhouse effect.
Venus’ atmosphere is a little like Mars. It’s 95% comprised of carbon dioxide (which isn’t breathable) and a small mix of other chemicals that only take up 5% of the full atmosphere like nitrogen and argon. There is even arguable weather in the clouds at times. Acid rains from the sky from time to time along with thunder.
It’s a little better than Mars when trying to get there however because it only takes 3 months. That means a round trip which would take only 6 months is still smaller than how long it takes to just arrive on Mars much less get home which would take over a year.
So let’s get back to that run-away greenhouse effect. Venus is kind of close to the sun. That means that it gets hit with much more heat from the sun than Earth. Currently, we have a problem with global warming because we are adding more and more Carbon Dioxide into the air. Almost like a blanket, it traps the heat and causes the global temperature to rise. Unlike Earth, however, Venus’ atmosphere is so much heavier and thicker so it’s even better at trapping heat.
Now the gravity on Venus is a little odd. Not exactly as weak as Mars it’s only 10% weaker than Earth’s pull. This is quite negligible in the grand scheme of things. However Venus’ atmosphere kind of messes with how gravity should and does work. See normally if your standing on the beach you feel just fine. You can jump up and down, run around and even play in the sand. Now imagine yourself suddenly 3000ft underwater (900m). It’s the same gravity but the pressure from all the water up above is enough to ruin your day. That’s basically what the situation of Venus is. Standing on the surface of Venus your skeleton would be crushed and destroyed along with your skull.
The last thing I want to illustrate is that Venus also has the problem of heat. Imagine global warming without us trying to prevent it. Venus’ surface reaches temperatures that are crazy high. With a temperature average of 880F (471C), Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system. Lead has a melting point of 621.5F (327.5C), which means it would melt from just being on the surface. Do you have any idea how your body might react to being there?
So I’m guessing that at the moment you are probably thinking “Wow, Mars is so much better than Venus. Why would we ever want to go there?” But you see, I left something out. A way to avoid every downside present on Venus which sounds straight out of a sci-fi movie.
A place above the clouds
See, around 31 miles or 50km above the surface of Earth would be our stratosphere. Venus’ stratosphere is also located in this location and it is here that our floating cities would prosper. But how does this avoid every problem listed and turn Venus into our next best home of choice?
In the stratosphere, the atmosphere is so much thinner than down below. Its stratosphere won’t crush you and instead shares a very similar gravity and atmospheric pressure to Earth. This means not having to work out day after day and no brittle bones like on Mars. Another amazing thing about this is that you could go outside without a spacesuit on and not die instantly like down below. However, you would have to have an oxygen tank with you as well as a shield of sorts against acid rain. With these two things, you could take leisurely strolls outside. The best option for a shield would be a silicate compound like quartz which we use in buildings to protect against acid rain.
Nasa, your an amazing space agency and one of the best in the world, please try to be reasonable. You already made the plans for H.A.V.O.C. or the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept. Which is a mission to send a robot in a sort of blimp-like craft. Keeping it in the atmosphere to record more data. I mean, if you want to look at statistics 56% of the missions to Venus have succeeded when compared to Mars. I don’t see why we want to go there.
Anyways a ship like H.A.V.O.C. is quite feasible for living above the clouds. Unlike Mars where the solar panels would have to be cleaned daily of dust. Venus would supply lots of light for us to use and power our civilizations in the sky using solar panels. Even Venus’ location is amazing for gathering sun. A panel that would make 100 watts on earth would make 261 watts on Venus. That’s a huge boost in power.
As time goes on Venus may slowly gain more and more relevancy within the scientific community. Soon, we might ditch our plans for Mars and take to the skies above the clouds. However, for now, we can only keep dreaming and learning so that was ready for what the future has in store. Who knows, maybe we might one day find ourselves somewhere that we could only dream about among the stars.
- Mars is the current destination for humanity as of now for the future
- This idea isn’t new and is still being explored with new advances in technology
- Venus’ stratosphere is very livable and much more like Earth than Mars is
- HAVOC is a mission devised by NASA that is targeted at Venus’ upper atmosphere to collect more data about future implications of this area
- A home in the clouds of Venus might be humanities next stop
Thanks for reading!
Hi, I’m Rohan, a 15-year-old Innovator at The Knowledge Society. If you enjoyed this and want to learn more feel free to reach out to me or connect with me on Linkedin. If you're still feeling curious and want to learn more you can read my article down below about how Optogenetics works. Bye!!
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