Challenges of Venus colonization
Дружинин К. П., Куимова М. В. Challenges of Venus colonization // Молодой ученый. 2015. №11. С. 315-317.
Named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, Venus is the second planet from the Sun. Venus is similar in structure and size to Earth; however it is a world of intense heat and volcanic activity. The colonization of Venus is discussed from both science fiction and scientific standpoints. There are arguments for a mission to Venus. The planet offers more solar power and protection from radiation than Mars. You can travel to Venus in five months; whereas Mars takes nine [1, 2, 3]. The opportunities to travel the shortest path to Venus come once every 1.6 years, whereas for Mars they come every two years.
Scientists believe that there was life on Venus. Probably 2 billion years ago there was an ocean, but later much of the water evaporated. Nowadays, it is presumed that organic life in its simplest form can exist in the thick Venusian clouds; some scientists believe that life can also exist on the surface of the planet.
Venus has certain similarities to Earth that might make its colonization easier in comparison with other possible destinations, both planets have:
- almost the same size and density;
- similar surface gravity.
Additionally, colonization of Venus, in comparison to other planets, has the following advantages:
- relative proximity (shorter and easier space flight);
- Venus has about three times the land surface area of Earth (4.60 x 108 km2 vs. 1.49 x 108 km2, respectively) because there are no oceans on Venus;
- Venus gets a lot of energy from the sun (abundant energy makes it easier to solve many of the subsistence problems that will be encountered);
- Venus’ gravity is almost 91 percent of Earth’s;
- thick atmosphere that would protect you from radiation;
- two-thirds of Venus is flat, smooth plains .
Meanwhile the colonization of Venus is presently not possible due to the following reasons, Venus:
- not only rotates backwards (retrograde) with respect to the sun and to the other planets (which rotate in the same direction as the sun (prograde)), but it rotates very slowly. One orbit of Venus around the sun (i.e. a Venus year) lasts 1.92 Venus days;
- has a day-night cycle (i.e. a Venus day) which is equal to 117 Earth days;
- has no magnetic field;
- has an atmosphere primarily composed of carbon dioxide (the solar heat enters the atmosphere and cannot leave, thus resulting in surface temperatures of 462°C, min.);
- has no water;
- has a dense atmosphere (it is 93 times as dense as that on Earth consisting primarily of 96.5 % CO2 and 3.5 % N2);
- high surface pressure (92 times as great as that on Earth);
- powerful winds (in the middle cloud layer, the winds can reach speeds of more than 700 km/h. It is faster than any tornado or hurricane speed ever recorded on Earth. However, the thickening atmosphere of Venus slows the winds down when you descend through the clouds. Wind barely reaches the speed of 10 km/h on the surface) [6, 10]
The presence of life seems unlikely on the surface of Venus due to harsh conditions; complex, boiling, inhospitable environment; and carbon-rich atmosphere; however, it might exist in the cloud tops.
Scientists state that it is possible to survive on Venus. At about 50–60 kilometer above its surface, Venus has a quite comfortable environment. The atmosphere is inadequate for breathing, it would still be toxic carbon dioxide and you need air to breathe and protection from the sulfuric acid, but pressure, atmosphere density and temperature at this altitude are much more like those on Earth. There are also water vapor and traces of oxygen in cloud top levels but unfortunately extremely high concentration of sulfuric acid [4, 5, 8]. Venus cloud colonies will be protected from meteorites as they all burn up in the atmosphere long before they reach the colonies. People could set up floating balloons, full of human-breathable air. The carbon dioxide atmosphere of Venus allows a much wider range of lifting gasses for a balloon. Moreover, colonists will be protected from cosmic radiation and solar radiation .
Fifty kilometers up excludes the need for any serious terraforming projects. The upper cloud level on Venus has stable temperatures day around and year around. Atmosphere on Venus is nitrogen rich. Moreover, there is more than enough carbon dioxide for plant growth. You need not extract CO2 from a near vacuum as you have to do on Mars. It means that future colonists would never run out of the necessary elements to support human life.
Still there are serious disadvantages of cloud colonies on Venus:
- you need extra fuel to return to Earth;
- the materials for colonists’ habitats should be sulfuric acid resistant .
Thus, we can’t land on the surface of Venus and design a spacecraft that could survive the planet’s hellish environment. However, we can live on Venus in thick clouds. The creation of cloud colonies (a floating “cloud city”) in the upper atmosphere of Venus is not a near future project, but it might be in the distant future.
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2. Сысоева Н. В., Куимова М. В. Some hazards of long-term space flights // Молодой ученый. 2015. № 8 (88). С. 315–316.
3. Федотов Д. В., Куимова М. В. About astronaut training for space missions // Молодой ученый. 2015. № 9 (89). С. 331–332.
4. Colonizing Venus with floating cities http://www.universetoday.com/15570/colonizing-venus-with-floating-cities/ (accessed May 23, 2015).
5. Interesting Facts About Venus. http://www.universetoday.com/14070/interesting-facts-about-venus/ (accessed May 23, 2015).
6. Venus compared with the Earth http://www.ajax.ehu.es/VEX/Venus.Earth/Venus.Earth.html (accessed May 23, 2015).
7. What would it be like to live on Venus? http://www.space.com/28357-how-to-live-on-venus.html (accessed May 23, 2015).
8. Why we should build cloud cities on Venus. http://motherboard.vice.com/read/why-we-should-build-cloud-cities-on-venus (accessed May 23, 2015).
9. Will we build colonies that float over Venus like Buckminster Fuller’s “Cloud nine”? http://www.science20.com/robert_inventor/will_we_build_colonies_that_float_over_venus_like_buckminster_fullers_cloud_nine-127573 (accessed May 23, 2015).
10. Winds on Venus. http://www.universetoday.com/36816/winds-on-venus/ (accessed May 23, 2015).