Science Writing

How Do You Live on Venus?

It’s difficult, but not impossible.

Venus is a chaotic, inhospitable planet. It is a dark mirror to Earth.

You approach a yellow, sickly looking planet. Clouds the size of continents billow around in its upper atmosphere; they are thick, and swirl ponderously about.

It is a dead planet.

The clouds are sulfuric acid, with a lower layer of carbon dioxide. Whatever heat is absorbed from the Sun is trapped and a runaway greenhouse affect has resulted in a world more akin to a science fiction nightmare than to reality.

Temperatures sit around 500 degrees Celsius; hot enough to melt flesh from bone and fry any would be landers to a crisp. That is, you would melt, if you survived the air pressure which is ninety times greater than Earth’s merely at Venus’ surface.

And let’s not forget the volcanoes that are still erupting on the planets rocky, jagged surface.

All in all, not what you would call a paradise.

And yet, with the right technology, and time, humanity could one day thrive on Venus. Okay, not on Venus, but in it’s atmosphere.

The atmosphere of Venus is dense, which is horrible if you want to live on the surface of the planet, but if you travel roughly 50kms up into the jaundice sky you find near Earth-like conditions.

A temperature range of 0-50 degrees. An atmosphere equivalent to that of Earths. And at that point in the atmosphere cities made from the right material could literally float on the denser clouds beneath them.

The thick atmosphere would also act as a buffer to any harmful solar radiation from the Sun.

Whilst the surface of Venus, and to be fair, much of its atmosphere is the opposite of a hospitable atmosphere for humans, there is a sweet spot. A spot that would be just right for breathable-air filled ships to float and drift on swirling currents. A spot that could be where human civilizations one day not only survive, but thrive.

(And one last thing. Wake up before the Sun this month and look toward the east. That big, bright shining dot in the sky is Venus. And it is beautiful. Horrifying, but beautiful.)

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