Welcome To Venus (Your Interplanetary Way Station)

Posted by on Jul 19, 2008 in Blog, Solar Essay, Space Stations, Venus | 0 comments

(Inspired by Nancy Atkinson of Universe Today)

Venus, a world shrouded in dense clouds of sulfuric acid holds little promise of ever hosting future settlers.

Once thought to harbor a dense jungle underneath its “steamy atmosphere,” Venus is now known to be an inhospitable world due to its crushing atmosphere and deadly climate.

Even though living upon the planet may be impossible (if not impractical), Venus may have a significant purpose for future space travelers beyond using the barren world as a convenient garbage dump.

Orbiting the sun at approximately 108 million kilometers, a space station orbiting Venus would have the opportunity to help resupply traveling shuttles, rocket ships, etc., braving the vaccum of space.

This would help not only cut down the cost of traveling to Mercury, but time as well (since spacecraft could always use the planet as a sling shot towards Mercury or Earth).

Since these future space stations would probably serve as interplanetary rest stops, they would probably have to be built with artificial gravity in mind, lest colonists suffer the side effects of micro gravity.

While Venus will unlikely boast a large population when compared to Mars, Ganymede and Callisto, its economy may rival that of its more “fertile” siblings orbiting the Sun.

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Which Worlds Should Humanity Skip?

Posted by on Sep 12, 2007 in Blog, Charon, Europa, Io, Jupiter, Mercury, Neptune, Pluto, Saturn, Solar Essay, Uranus, Venus | 2 comments

With our species blessed with 83 worlds that orbit our home star, why would we choose to settle some and skip the rest? After all, would it not be in humanities best interest to spread our glory over every celestial moon, planet and dwarf planet?

While covering every centimeter of every orbiting sphere may sound glorious, it may not be practical (or even desired) by our future descendants. Just as the human race chooses to (mainly) live within fertile valley’s and hills over deserts and mountains, so to our children may opt to skip worlds with “too much hassle” involved in settling them.

A prime example of this would be Mercury. Although humanity may posses the capability of colonizing this sphere, its close orbit towards the Sun may make it uninhabitable, at least during the day time (thanks to solar radiation).

Even though Mercury may contain many precious metals beneath its baked crust, it will probably never boast large metropolis’s upon its surface, unless Earth decides to turn it into a planetary penal colony.

Moving outward to Venus, one could easily realize why humanity would never ever want to set foot on the planet, let alone through its thick atmosphere. The atmospheric pressure on Venus is about 90 times that of Earth, strong enough to crush a human unprotected.

Hosting sulfuric acid within its upper clouds, Venus may be more valuable as an interplanetary garbage dump than a viable colony (even for science).

Over in the Jovian system, Jupiter’s moon Io shares a similar fate to Venus. Although lacking an atmosphere, Io does house numerous volcanoes upon its surface, some of which spew hot sulfur hundreds of kilometers from its surface.

Even if scientists were able to withstand the deadly radiation that engulfs this world, they would probably not enjoy swimming in one of Io’s numerous lava lakes.

Despite the fact that Io’s lunar sister is known to harbor an abundance of water ice, Europa may only gather a mournful glance from a few scientists observing from Ganymede. Even though many scientists suspect that Europa may have oceans beneath its surface, the world is jealously guarded by its father Jupiter, who bathes its lunar daughter in deadly radiation.

While some have suggested digging a hole beneath the icy surface, doing so may only guarantee ones fate within the icy walls, as Europa has a fairly active surface, which could result in one getting crushed by its icy “tectonic plates.”

When it comes to radiation, Saturn’s ring worlds do not seem to fare any better than Europa. While the icy moons of Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, and Rhea may find their surfaces scoured by robots (in search of water ice), these lunar bodies unfortunately orbit within Saturn’s radiation belts.

Even though engineers will probably find a way to shield themselves with artificial magnetic fields (or even create enormous planetary versions), the added cost of doing so may make living on these worlds too expensive for the “average space colonist.”

The moons of Uranus and Neptune who dance around their green and blue parents, respectively may share a similar fate to their Saturian cousins.

Although its quite possible that these moons may eventually be settled by humanity, they may find themselves harboring space pirates (to the delight of solar governments everywhere) as their distance from Earth and lack of nearby resources may make them unattractive for the masses.

Heading out towards the Kuiper belt, one wonders whether humanity will have the attention span of settling any of these frozen objects at the edge of our solar system.

Although colonizing both Pluto and Charon could provide a few engineering delights, one wonders if humanity may simply decide to ignore these historical relics as they head out to other promising star systems.

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Venus: An Interplanetary Garbage Dump?

Posted by on Apr 26, 2007 in Blog, Solar Essay, Venus | 2 comments

For thousands of years, Venus has captured the attention of humanity across our slightly larger world. Whether it was through spiritual religion, science fiction stories or modern observation, Venus has had its fair share in the celestial spotlight, only to be out shined in modern times by Mars, the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn.

But Venus may again regain its spot light in our solar system, although not as a potential colony world full of happy residents. With surface temperatures approaching 482 degrees Celsius (or 900 degrees Fahrenheit), an atmospheric pressure 92 times greater than that of Earths and sulfuric acid covering this boiling world, Venus could easily serve as an interplanetary garbage dump for the inner solar system.

Although humanity could ultimately attempt to recycle everything in space (and should at least try), it may be worth casting some items such as nuclear waste, biological virus (via mad scientists), chemical weapons and other deadly unmentionables into the sulfuric abyss for the safety of humanity. These products may not be worth risking human life over to salvage, and Venus would provide the perfect spot to cast them away from our presence.

Asteroid colonies may also benefit from a planetary dumping ground. Unlike their larger terrestrial friends like Earth, the Moon and Mars, future asteroid colonies would be limited in the amount of space they could conserve for general garbage.

With humans producing several pounds of trash per day (in some cases), colonists will need a better alternative to removing their trash aside from burying it (which can be expensive), burning it (which may not be recommended) or simply banishing it into space.

Providing an interplanetary dumping ground on Venus for these colonies may be an alternative solution, as it would help keep our cosmos clean of space junk, as well as keep the cost of mining these space rocks down.

Venus could also serve as a location where scientists could conduct fairly dangerous experiments without the results affecting a future home world for humanity. Scientists could orbit the sulfuric world in orbital space stations, and if their experiments turned up unpleasant results, they could simply cast the dangerous contents onto Venian soil to face the wrath of the planet.

Venus, unlike most of the other terrestrial worlds that orbit Sol, will probably never become an attractive home for humanity. With the conditions on the surface unsuitable for carbon and mechanical life, it is unlikely that scientist would find any lifeforms living on the surface, or at least life as we know it.

Despite the hostile environment, Venus may be able to serve humanity by hosting some of our most hostile (and least enjoyable) creations. By storing our garbage and other dangerous substances on the planet, we may be able to free up space on Earth (and in the future Mars, the Moon and Mercury) for future generations.

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