Monday, April 14, 2008
Colonization of Venus, is it Possible?
Since the first Star Wars movie was filmed, the general public has shown sparked interest in entertaining the idea of further space exploration. Particularly the possibility of interplanetary living on- the Moon, Mars, other planets, and even some farfetched ideas of asteroids. Among these brilliant ideas for location possibilities, Venus is a potential candidate in this category. How could anybody ponder the thought of living on Venus, given all that we know about this planet? So far, these are the facts that exist on the planetary state of Venus:
Surface temperatures reaching as high as 450 degrees Celsius, on average. These numbers are higher in range, compared to average Mars temperatures of -63 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius.
Atmospheric surface pressures similar to being 3,281 feet (=1 kilometer) underwater on Earth. Imagine diving to those ocean depths, then compare experiencing that same weight of pressure walking on the surface of Venus.
Long days and nights- that is, a slow planetary rotation. It takes 243 earth days to complete one rotation; in Earth terms 24 hours in a day would equate to- 243 earth days in one Venus day. Too bad- nobody would live long enough to enjoy their first birthday, let alone their first Christmas! We would probably have to just reinvent the time system, so that we can stay in tune with our Earthly counterparts. Funny thing is, and this is the ironic part about Venus’ year, is that it’s actually shorter than 1 Venus day! It takes longer for Venus to complete one rotation (day to night), than it actually does to complete one full year (224.7 earth days).
Investigating the Concept of Planetary Engineering:
So who in their right minds could ever conjure up the idea of humans surviving on Venus? First of all, in order to understand this concept you need to understand the science of “planetary engineering” or “terraforming”. It’s fair to say that “terraforming” is best described as the earthly reshaping of a planetary body. To put things into perspective, it’s basically a concept derived from both traditional science and science fiction. It involves the alteration of a planetary body in order to accommodate a thriving environment for the human race. This includes modifications to the- surface environments, temperature, and atmosphere. To be able to envision all of this, you need to have two things- a willing and open mind, and no fear in exploring foreign territories.
If we had the opportunity as well as the means to investigate the planet of Venus, we would be able to gain valuable insight and information on the possible reversal of the Greenhouse Effect. Just think for a moment, what if we could experiment with the climate on Venus, in an attempt to reverse engineer the effects of Global warming? The noxious gases filling the Venus atmosphere isn’t a result of man-made byproducts and pollution, but a natural occurrence. This is why it makes for such a perfect template for us to tinker with- how much more harm than good could we create out of providing an answer to a problem?
One popular solution to “making colonization possible” theory is this- what if we could harness the atmospheric gases of both helium and/or hydrogen on Venus, to create a buoyant living environment? Similar to the buoyancy of a boat floating above the ocean waters, imagine a Venusian colony that floats above the surface of the planet, using the same concept as floating a boat. Except that the colony wouldn’t support it’s buoyancy atop a liquid element, rather it would be supported by the atmospheric pressure of surface gases, remember- “Atmospheric surface pressures similar to being 3,281 feet (=1 kilometer) underwater on Earth.” So the reasoning on that is like this- the more elevated you are above the surface on Venus, the less pressure you’ll experience. Now that you understand, don’t you feel that sense of “enchantment” with the notion of a Venusian Colony?
Romanticizing with the Idea of Venusian Colonization:
In essence, it is possible to achieve an environment worthy of sustaining human life. To break everything down to the specifics, here is what we understand, given the information that we already know about Venus:
• In accordance with the Law of Physics- “materials that are lower in density have the potential to rise to the top.”
• By harnessing the physical properties of breathable gases, we can utilize them to gain the lifting power needed to achieve a safe elevation.
• Air domes would be constructed in order to contain vital air for breathing, and at the same time, to “float” the colonies (minimal elevation is around 50 km, in order to replicate Earth’s atmosphere)
• The benefits of an elevated state include:
* Cooler temperatures (an approximate difference of up to -50 degrees Celsius cooler) which allows for chances of condensation (rain, water production). Sulfuric acid droplets can provide a naturally occurring resource for harvesting Hydrogen (water).
* Access to capture solar energy- the elevation allows sufficient clearance from thick clouds which cover the planet’s surface.In addition, the reflective properties of the clouds aid in the collection of solar energy by pointing solar panels in a downward direction.Solar collection is about 1.9 times more than solar collection on Earth.
3 Reasons Why We Should Consider Settling on Venus:
For those who are in denial of the impending future, our planet will eventually reach a point in time where overpopulation will become a major global threat. As of now, we have countries- even continents that are regulating the maximum amount of children to 1 child per family. Before it becomes an impending epidemic, we need to start locating resources for interplanetary occupation. Here are the top 3 reasons why we should consider settling on Venus:
• Aside from the Moon, Venus is the closest planet to Earth. Travel is much shorter compared to travels to other planets.
• Earth and Venus are the only planets who are large enough to hold a proper atmosphere, but also small enough to not be gas giants. In other words, they are heavy and cool enough to retain CO2, N2 and most importantly 02, but light and warm enough so that H2 doesn't accumulate.
• Because of the uniqueness of the planet’s atmosphere, the damaging Ultra-violet rays from the sun is blocked and filtered out more effectively, in comparison to the atmospheric conditions here on Earth.
• Accessibility to the Asteroid belt- for mining purposes. The Asteroid belt, in correlation to Venus, is a great resource for mining for mineral resources. Also, since Venus is the second closest planet to the Sun, it has a stronger gravitational pull. Which means that it takes longer to complete one rotation (changing from day to night), yet the period of revolution around the Sun is much shorter (1 revolution= 1 year= 224.7 Earth days).
Until the scientists and other brilliant minds here on Earth can pull together and come to a mutual agreement that planet colonization should fall under the same category as space exploration, we can just continue to fantasize about how wonderful life would be living on another planet. The only worst case scenario that can be conjured up are two important things- development of a material that can withstand the corrosive Venus atmosphere, and preventing damage and leaks to the life sustaining dome structure. Once our Space Messiah plans to show up, we’ll be able to win over the support that’s needed to fund this concept and to promote understanding of how important it is to start looking for colonization elsewhere.