How do we terraform Venus?

July 25, 2014 by Matt Williams
A mass of swirling gas and cloud at Venus’ south pole. Credit: ESA/VIRTIS/INAF-IASF/Obs. de Paris-LESIA/Univ. Oxford.

The planet Venus is often referred to as Earth's "Sister Planet", and rightly so. In addition to being almost the same size, Venus and Earth are similar in mass and have very similar compositions (both being terrestrial planets). As a neighboring planet to Earth, Venus also orbits the Sun within its "Goldilocks Zone" (aka. habitable zone). But of course, there are many key difference between the planets that make Venus uninhabitable.

For starters, it's atmosphere over 90 times thicker than Earth's, its average surface temperature is hot enough to melt lead, and the air is a toxic fume consisting of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid. As such, if humans want to live there, some serious ecological engineering – aka. terraforming – is needed first. And given its similarities to Earth, many scientists think Venus would be a prime candidate for terraforming, even more so than Mars!

Over the past century, the concept of terraforming Venus has appeared multiple times, both in terms of science fiction and as the subject of scholarly study. Whereas treatments of the subject were largely fantastical in the early 20th century, a transition occurred with the beginning of the Space Age. As our knowledge of Venus improved, so too did the proposals for altering the landscape to be more suitable for human habitation.

Examples in Fiction:

Since the early 20th century, the idea of ecologically transforming Venus has been explored in fiction. The earliest known example is Olaf Stapleton's Last And First Men (1930), two chapters of which are dedicated to describing how humanity's descendants terraform Venus after Earth becomes uninhabitable; and in the process, commit genocide against the native aquatic life.

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By the 1950s and 60s, owing to the beginning of the Space Age, terraforming began to appear in many works of science fiction. Poul Anderson also wrote extensively about terraforming in the 1950s. In his 1954 novel, The Big Rain, Venus is altered through planetary engineering techniques over a very long period of time. The book was so influential that the term term "Big Rain" has since come to be synonymous with the terraforming of Venus.

In 1991, author G. David Nordley suggested in his short story ("The Snows of Venus") that Venus might be spun-up to a day-length of 30 Earth days by exporting its atmosphere of Venus via mass drivers. Author Kim Stanley Robinson became famous for his realistic depiction of terraforming in the Mars Trilogy – which included Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars.

In 2012, he followed this series up with the release of 2312, a science fiction novel that dealt with the colonization of the entire Solar System – which includes Venus. The novel also explored the many ways in which Venus could be terraformed, ranging from global cooling to carbon sequestration, all of which were based on scholarly studies and proposals.

Proposed Methods:

The first proposed method of terraforming Venus was made in 1961 by Carl Sagan. In a paper titled "The Planet Venus", he argued for the use of genetically engineered bacteria to transform the carbon in the atmosphere into organic molecules. However, this was rendered impractical due to the subsequent discovery of sulfuric acid in Venus' clouds and the effects of solar wind.

In his 1991 study "Terraforming Venus Quickly", British scientist Paul Birch proposed bombarding Venus' atmosphere with hydrogen. The resulting reaction would produce graphite and water, the latter of which would fall to the surface and cover roughly 80% of the surface in oceans. Given the amount of hydrogen needed, it would have to harvested directly from one of the gas giant's or their moon's ice.

The proposal would also require iron aerosol to be added to the atmosphere, which could be derived from a number of sources (i.e. the Moon, asteroids, Mercury). The remaining atmosphere, estimated to be around 3 bars (three times that of Earth), would mainly be composed of nitrogen, some of which will dissolve into the new oceans, reducing atmospheric pressure further.

Another idea is to bombard Venus with refined magnesium and calcium, which would sequester carbon in the form of calcium and magnesium carbonates. In their 1996 paper, "The stability of climate on Venus", Mark Bullock and David H. Grinspoon of the University of Colorado at Boulder indicated that Venus' own deposits of calcium and magnesium oxides could be used for this process. Through mining, these minerals could be exposed to the surface, thus acting as carbon sinks.

However, Bullock and Grinspoon also claim this would have a limited cooling effect – to about 400 K (126.85 °C; 260.33 °F) and would only reduce the atmospheric pressure to an estimated 43 bars. Hence, additional supplies of calcium and magnesium would be needed to achieve the 8×1020 kg of calcium or 5×1020 kg of magnesium required, which would most likely have to be mined from asteroids.

The concept of solar shades has also been explored, which would involve using either a series of small spacecraft or a single large lens to divert sunlight from a planet's surface, thus reducing global temperatures. For Venus, which absorbs twice as much sunlight as Earth, solar radiation is believed to have played a major role in the runaway greenhouse effect that has made it what it is today.

Artist’s concept of a Venus cloud city – part of NASA’s High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) plan. Credit: Advanced Concepts Lab/NASA Langley Research Center

Such a shade could be space-based, located in the Sun–Venus L1 Lagrangian point, where it would prevent some sunlight from reaching Venus. In addition, this shade would also serve to block the solar wind, thus reducing the amount of radiation Venus' surface is exposed to (another key issue when it comes to habitability). This cooling would result in the liquefaction or freezing of atmospheric CO², which would then be depsotied on the surface as dry ice (which could be shipped off-world or sequestered underground).

Alternately, solar reflectors could be placed in the atmosphere or on the surface. This could consist of large reflective balloons, sheets of carbon nanotubes or graphene, or low-albedo material. The former possibility offers two advantages: for one, atmospheric reflectors could be built in-situ, using locally-sourced carbon. Second, Venus' atmosphere is dense enough that such structures could easily float atop the clouds.

NASA scientist Geoffrey A. Landis has also proposed that cities could be built above Venus' clouds, which in turn could act as both a solar shield and as processing stations. These would provide initial living spaces for colonists, and would act as terraformers, gradually converting Venus' atmosphere into something livable so the colonists could migrate to the surface.

Another suggestion has to do with Venus' rotational speed. Venus rotates once every 243 days, which is by far the slowest rotation period of any of the major planets. As such, Venus's experiences extremely long days and nights, which could prove difficult for most known Earth species of plants and animals to adapt to. The slow rotation also probably accounts for the lack of a significant magnetic field.

To address this, British Interplanetary Society member Paul Birch suggested creating a system of orbital solar mirrors near the L1 Lagrange point between Venus and the Sun. Combined with a soletta mirror in polar orbit, these would provide a 24-hour light cycle.

It has also been suggested that Venus' rotational velocity could be spun-up by either striking the surface with impactors or conducting close fly-bys using bodies larger than 96.5 km (60 miles) in diameter. There is also the suggestion of using using mass drivers and dynamic compression members to generate the rotational force needed to speed Venus up to the point where it experienced a day-night cycle identical to Earth's (see above).

Then there's the possibility of removing some of Venus' atmosphere, which could accomplished in a number of ways. For starters, impactors directed at the surface would blow some of the atmosphere off into space. Other methods include space elevators and mass accelerators (ideally placed on balloons or platforms above the clouds), which could gradually scoop gas from the atmosphere and eject it into space.

Potential Benefits:

One of the main reasons for colonizing Venus, and altering its climate for human settlement, is the prospect of creating a "backup location" for humanity. And given the range of choices – Mars, the Moon, and the Outer Solar System – Venus has several things going for it the others do not. All of these highlight why Venus is known as Earth's "Sister Planet".

For starters, Venus is a terrestrial planet that is similar in size, mass and composition to Earth. This is why Venus has similar gravity to Earth, which is about of what we experience 90% (or 0.904 g, to be exact. As a result, humans living on Venus would be at a far lower risk of developing health problems associated with time spent in weightlessness and microgravity environments – such as osteoporosis and muscle degeneration.

Venus's relative proximity to Earth would also make transportation and communications easier than with most other locations in the solar system. With current propulsion systems, launch windows to Venus occur every 584 days, compared to the 780 days for Mars. Flight time is also somewhat shorter since Venus is the closest planet to Earth. At it's closest approach, it is 40 million km distant, compared to 55 million km for Mars.

Another reason has to do with Venus' runaway greenhouse effect, which is the reason for the planet's extreme heat and atmospheric density. In testing out various ecological engineering techniques, our scientists would learn a great deal about their effectiveness. This information, in turn, will come in mighty handy in the ongoing fight against Climate Change here on Earth.

And in the coming decades, this fight is likely to become rather intense. As the NOAA reported in March of 2015, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have now surpassed 400 ppm, a level not seen since the the Pliocene Era – when global temperatures and sea level were significantly higher. And as a series of scenarios computed by NASA show, this trend is likely to continue until 2100, with severe consequences.

In one scenario, carbon dioxide emissions will level off at about 550 ppm toward the end of the century, resulting in an average temperature increase of 2.5 °C (4.5 °F). In the second scenario, carbon dioxide emissions rise to about 800 ppm, resulting in an average increase of about 4.5 °C (8 °F). Whereas the increases predicted in the first scenario are sustainable, in the latter scenario, life will become untenable on many parts of the planet.

So in addition to creating a second home for humanity, terraforming Venus could also help to ensure that Earth remains a viable home for our species. And of course, the fact that Venus is a terrestrial planet means that it has abundant natural resources that could be harvested, helping humanity to achieve a "post-scarcity" economy.

Challenges:

Beyond the similarities Venus' has with Earth (i.e. size, mass and composition), there are numerous differences that would make terraforming and colonizing it a major challenge. For one, reducing the heat and pressure of Venus' atmosphere would require a tremendous amount of energy and resources. It would also require infrastructure that does not yet exist and would be very expensive to build.

For instance, it would require immense amounts of metal and advanced materials to build an orbital shade large enough to cool Venus' atmosphere to the point that its greenhouse effect would be arrested. Such a structure, if positioned at L1, would also need to be four times the diameter of Venus itself. It would have to be assembled in space, which would require a massive fleet of robot assemblers.

In contrast, increasing the speed of Venus's rotation would require tremendous energy, not to mention a significant number of impactors that would have to cone from the outer solar System – mainly from the Kuiper Belt. In all of these cases, a large fleet of spaceships would be needed to haul the necessary material, and they would need to be equipped with advanced drive systems that could make the trip in a reasonable amount of time.

Currently, no such drive systems exist, and conventional methods – ranging from ion engines to chemical propellants – are neither fast or economical enough. To illustrate, NASA's New Horizons mission took more than 11 years to get make its historic rendezvous with Pluto in the Kuiper Belt, using conventional rockets and the gravity-assist method.

Meanwhile, the Dawn mission, which relied relied on ionic propulsion, took almost four years to reach Vesta in the Asteroid Belt. Neither method is practical for making repeated trips to the Kuiper Belt and hauling back icy comets and asteroids, and humanity has nowhere near the number of ships we would need to do this.

The same problem of resources holds true for the concept of placing solar reflectors above the clouds. The amount of material would have to be large and would have to remain in place long after the atmosphere had been modified, since Venus's surface is currently completely enshrouded by clouds. Also, Venus already has highly reflective clouds, so any approach would have to significantly surpass its current albedo (0.65) to make a difference.

And when it comes to removing Venus' atmosphere, things are equally challenging. In 1994, James B. Pollack and Carl Sagan conducted calculations that indicated that an impactor measuring 700 km in diameter striking Venus at high velocity would less than a thousandth of the total atmosphere. What's more, there would be diminishing returns as the atmosphere's density decreases, which means thousands of giant impactors would be needed.

In addition, most of the ejected atmosphere would go into solar orbit near Venus, and – without further intervention – could be captured by Venus's gravitational field and become part of the atmosphere once again. Removing atmospheric gas using space elevators would be difficult because the planet's geostationary orbit lies an impractical distance above the surface, where removing using mass accelerators would be time-consuming and very expensive.

Conclusion:

In sum, the potential benefits of terraforming Venus are clear. Humanity would have a second home, we would be able to add its resources to our own, and we would learn valuable techniques that could help prevent cataclysmic change here on Earth. However, getting to the point where those benefits could be realized is the hard part.

Like most proposed terraforming ventures, many obstacles need to be addressed beforehand. Foremost among these are transportation and logistics, mobilizing a massive fleet of robot workers and hauling craft to harness the necessary resources. After that, a multi-generational commitment would need to be made, providing financial resources to see the job through to completion. Not an easy task under the most ideal of conditions.

Suffice it to say, this is something that humanity cannot do in the short-run. However, looking to the future, the idea of Venus becoming our "Sister Planet" in every way imaginable – with oceans, arable land, wildlife and cities – certainly seems like a beautiful and feasible goal. The only question is, how long will we have to wait?

We have written many interesting articles about terraforming here at Universe Today. Here's The Definitive Guide To Terraforming, Could We Terraform the Moon?, Should We Terraform Mars?, How Do We Terraform Mars? and Student Team Wants to Terraform Mars Using Cyanobacteria.

We've also got articles that explore the more radical side of terraforming, like Could We Terraform Jupiter?, Could We Terraform The Sun?, and Could We Terraform A Black Hole?

For more information, check out Terraforming Mars at NASA Quest! and NASA's Journey to Mars.

Explore further: ESA: Unveiling Venus

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antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (12) Jul 25, 2014
How will we need to fix Venus?

Probably easier to fix ourselves so that we can live on Venus* than the other way around.

*Or just under harsh conditions in general. At some point of getting ourselves into durable, artificial bodies ther whole idea of terraforming becomes moot.

Then you could scoop up the carbon, bury it or shoot it off into space.

Erm...the magnitude of such a task seems to escape the author. Venus would be meters deep in CO2 snow. Over the entire surface. Shooting that amount of mass into space or burying it is not possible. You'de be better advised to build a planet from scratch.

The carbon would be made into graphene structures, and the oxygen would become the lifting gas to keep the cities afloat.

Again a complete inability to understand orders of magnitude. SciFi is all cool and stuff...but for heavens sake: do some math first.

Where do they find these crazies?
JamesG
4.2 / 5 (9) Jul 25, 2014
Ok. Fraser Cain (the author of this piece) obviously had too much time on his hands.
Scottingham
4.5 / 5 (11) Jul 25, 2014
Fridays: When Physorg writers smoke weed.
rockwolf1000
4.3 / 5 (7) Jul 25, 2014
Fridays: When Physorg writers smoke weed.


You'd need something stronger than that to fabricate the above story. LSD would probably do it.
robert_durieux
4 / 5 (4) Jul 25, 2014
How do mankind survive the next decade first ?
Anyway, could be of some use : we'll soon have to terraform earth if we want to carry on living out there...
Benni
2.4 / 5 (13) Jul 25, 2014
To become like Venus, all we need to do is stay here & allow the 1998 Hockey Stick Crowd predictions come to pass. Just imagine all the rocket ship fuel that won't be polluting the orbit between Earth & Venus with CO2, we'll just keep it right here & VOILA, two Venus' for the cost of one.
extinct
4.1 / 5 (11) Jul 25, 2014
"How do we terraform Venus?"

We haven't even started to use terraforming techniques here on planet earth to reverse the massive damage we continually cause while being in denial about causing it, and now we're already planning to terraform another planet which we have scarcely ever been to with our fragile spacecraft? That just spotlights how dangerously arrogant we are. We lack humanity and we have too much technology, and that scenario is drastically out of balance with nature.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (15) Jul 25, 2014
Why?
Won't the environmentalists cry out in protest that man would damage the pristine Venusian eco-system?
Mike_Massen
4.3 / 5 (6) Jul 25, 2014
There certainly needs to be effort to deal with CO2 & AGW here !
But this doesn't mean there are not likely to be driven individuals who would find a passion to do something useful for Venus & Mars in terms of habitable options. Wouldn't it be great to have an excess of smart & driven people for a change to advance human potential...

Assuming we had some effective shielding & frozen CO2 then processing by various methods to produce O2 & carbon may not be that hard, selected removal of the shield in conjunction with factories to utilise localised solar power to do this would be an incremental step. Local power thus raised could be used to manufacture further factories & robotics to exponentially teraform - if at least to process CO2, we might suffer from excess oxygen for a time but, hey bacteria could be good at extracting nitrogen from rocks etc provided water was available.

Question is the first step, as Venus is unlikely to be a problem re indigenous bacteria ?
Benni
1.8 / 5 (10) Jul 25, 2014
SciFi is all cool and stuff...but for heavens sake: do some math first.


.........they don't know how to do differential equations.
antialias_physorg
3.8 / 5 (14) Jul 25, 2014
Won't the environmentalists cry out in protest that man would damage the pristine Venusian eco-system?

Because Venus hasn't got one? Duh.
Sean44
2 / 5 (8) Jul 25, 2014
Many lifeforms have imbalances in their equations and produce excess water. Which means biology not asteroids might be best for Venus. Mars needs mass and EM field, so the right billiard game with asteroids would be fun. Thermofile engineer however with a great in-balance in chemistry equations to where the statistical process takes 2 CO2 and 2H in an inbalance into 2H2O and the lifeform replicates using the C2 and O left over might be best for venus. Well maybe not one life form but a designer ecosystem. Its just assumed the water on earth was always here.. but there are a lot of equations in lifeforms where H2O is a byproduct. Use the exponential growth, and Venus could be terraformed possibly within decades :-p Then you throw in part two of terraforming, where the lifeforms produce an imbalance of a fatty acid oil that floats.. so the water reflects a lot of sun energy back into space. So Venus from earth would be even more brighter. :-D

Do thermofiles love sulfuric vents?
Dr_toad
Jul 25, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Sean_W
2.8 / 5 (4) Jul 25, 2014
1st: New materials and building methods to deal with the heat, pressure and chemistry.
2nd: Robots. Lots of robots.
3rd: Tunnels. Lots of tunnels.

And it is going to be a long time before things aren't dependant on support from Earth. No early ROI.
Protoplasmix
not rated yet Jul 25, 2014
…do some math first.

Indeed. Exponential growth would be the fastest low-tech solution. From Bacterial growth -- of the log (or exponential) phase it's said, "Exponential growth cannot continue indefinitely, however, because the medium is soon depleted of nutrients and enriched with wastes." So after coaxing a few giant ice-teroids to impact the planet, upping the angular momentum (to shorten the day) and providing H2O, I think some modified extremophiles would make quick work of the initial stages. Call me optimistic, but I think we could make Venus habitable within our lifetime, if we put our heads together.

The fastest high-tech solution is as yet still science fiction – 'matter replicators' I think they were called. Considering the rapid progress in 3D printing and nanotech, maybe we can use that route on Mars?
Mimath224
5 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2014
I think the first line
'It might be possible to terraform Venus some day, when our technology gets good enough.' has the point! Well I mean, that goes for just about everything doesn't it? Pigs might fly if some day we have the biological tech. I don't disagree with people dreaming about what might be possible in the future but should the write an article about it?
qitana
1 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2014
In all seriousness, I think the real question is:

Why haven't we sent a giant fridge to Venus?

Clearly people could live on Venus if they only had a giant fridge to live in!
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (4) Jul 26, 2014
I think the first line
'It might be possible to terraform Venus some day, when our technology gets good enough.' has the point! Well I mean, that goes for just about everything doesn't it? Pigs might fly if some day we have the biological tech. I don't disagree with people dreaming about what might be possible in the future but should the write an article about it?


That's what I thought.

One day, it might be possible, when we have the technology, to transform Venus into a bowl of strawberries.
Andrew Palfreyman
1 / 5 (3) Jul 26, 2014
Being an obviously overweight chap, my advice to you is to wear looser fitting clothes. You look like a bald wiener. Normally this would not matter, but since you're discussing really interesting stuff, being an obvious non-scientist AND stuffing yourself into clothing obviously not designed for you is distracting, to say the least. Clean up your act
Mike_Massen
4 / 5 (4) Jul 26, 2014
Sean44 mumbled
Many lifeforms have imbalances in their equations and produce excess water.
Rubbish.
From evolutionary history water the source solvent for all life processes to occur as such hydrolysis is the main reaction at the basis of life which means water must go through each & every (bio)organic system as an absolute essential - it is not an excess.

ie.
We drink water & we expel water,
input water aids digestion,
expelled water carries away waste.
Its a fundamental process of all life - microbiology 101

Thermophiles could well be employed on Venus, our best such bacteria on Earth die at aroound 120 deg C - not far short of the temps needed to destroy prions in Eg UHT at ~130 deg C.

So you would have to cool Venus first to less than 120 deg C to exploit thermophiles.

Water bearing comets for Mars & Venus would be useful but, there would be risks re collecting/directing & bear in mind Venus also doesn't have much of a magnetic field...
TheKnowItAll
not rated yet Jul 26, 2014
Venus needs an icy moon and I think it might be a bit difficult to steal one from Jupiter or Saturn.^^
Whydening Gyre
4 / 5 (4) Jul 26, 2014
Why would we even WANT to terraform Venus?
Mr. Frain is getting desperate...
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (3) Jul 26, 2014
It may actually be no more difficult than standard rocket science to terraform Venus if Panspermia is valid. I think life, like a gas, expands to the size of its container.

Of course, if you closely examine a diagram of a bumblebee on paper, you might be inclined to believe such a thing could never fly.
Mike_Massen
3.4 / 5 (5) Jul 26, 2014
Whydening Gyre asked
Why would we even WANT to terraform Venus?
As in "We" - the whole human race, one or more nation states, an enclave, well capitalized group of wealthy pioneers extending our reach ?

Why would columbus want to travel across the Atlantic ?
Why would people explore Antarctica ?

etc etc

There are lots of people in need of an education & desperately looking for direction, such may stimulate a passion in the pioneering spirit of exploration...

Sense of adventure ?

There is no shortage of capital, there is however a severe shortage of management skill
& contemporary inspiring examples that have led the human race thus far, why limit
the potential by even asking the question as such a question would invite the lesser members of our family to become divisive and hold us back yet again...
leomoore
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 26, 2014
The solutions discussed will never work unless the planet's core is liquefied and rotates like Earth's to create a magnetic field. It would also help with carbon sequestration to start plate tectonics. The biggest ingredient missing from this is water. There is not enough water on Venus. It's rotation is insufficient as well. It needs a moon of sufficient size to stabilse its rotation and axis. Of course, Earth eventually will need either a new moon or something that will prevent losing its current moon.

The bottom line is that if we were advanced enough to terraform a planet, we would probably be smart enough not to need an extra planet.

Considering the current political ascendancy of ignorance, I think it is doubtful our species will survive long enough to gain the knowledge necessary to colonise even the moon.
Whydening Gyre
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 26, 2014
So, Mike. What you are saying is - we'd do it because we can?
The financial cost alone would ruin THIS planet.(see leomore's comment).
Not to mention - the "attention to more pressing home planet details" brain drain...
Whydening Gyre
3 / 5 (2) Jul 26, 2014
I think the first line
'It might be possible to terraform Venus some day, when our technology gets good enough.' has the point! Well I mean, that goes for just about everything doesn't it? Pigs might fly if some day we have the biological tech. I don't disagree with people dreaming about what might be possible in the future but should the write an article about it?


That's what I thought.

One day, it might be possible, when we have the technology, to transform Venus into a bowl of strawberries.

Only if we've developed an "Infinite Probability" drive.
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (1) Jul 26, 2014
leomoore offered
..not enough water on Venus. It's rotation is insufficient as well. It needs a moon of sufficient size to stabilse its rotation and axis...
Since the field is weak & if we ever cool the planet to get solid CO2 as posted then extracting oxygen & allowing it to react with sun's proton flux should produce heaps of water. Not sure how much would be sloughed off but some might fall back as rain...

leomoore added
..if we were advanced enough to terraform a planet, we would probably be smart enough not to need an extra planet.
Sure but, the problem is we are not a unified species, so directing some to useful efforts here & Venus could be a good balance of human resources.

leomoore sadly
Considering the current political ascendancy of ignorance, I think it is doubtful our species will survive long enough..
Sentiments shared, it would seem smart to go about ones business avoiding influence of politics & without any dependence upon it...
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (2) Jul 26, 2014
Whydening Gyre replied
So, Mike. What you are saying is - we'd do it because we can?
Per my earlier post which "we" ?

Whydening Gyre
The financial cost alone would ruin THIS planet.(see leomore's comment).
He didnt talk re economics but, hey we wouldnt do it the way Re moon mission.

I envisage launching robotic probes to construct raw materials from moon, asteroids etc without human involvement - see my post with the word 'exponential', with modern tech & good design it could be programmed to run itself with minimal further hardware investment. Launches cheaper.

Whydening Gyre
Not to mention - the "attention to more pressing home planet details" brain drain...
Covered that too, re education in conjunction with direction, few posts back,

To clarify: There are plenty of humans, they need education & planning, both lacking currently but addressable. People are not unified, stimulate passions direct capital & management.

The rest should just be "..joining the dots"...
gopher65
5 / 5 (1) Jul 26, 2014
Phase 1: Decide to start terraforming Venus.
Phase 2: ???
Phase 3: Profit!
Graeme
1 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2014
The crust is probably pretty alkaline with plenty of magnesium and calcium that could absorb carbon dioxide to make carbonates. So you just have to find a way to have this happen. Another possibility is to engineer lifeforms that could survive in Venus like conditions. Every molecule used by life would have to be changed so something quite different. But I reckon there would be some carbon based substances stable at the temperature, and also reactive enough to do things with.
pandora4real
1 / 5 (3) Jul 27, 2014
Term terraforming has become confounded with making it suitable for homo sapiens, full stop. Earth doesn't look much like earth anymore. And we don't live on the planet, we live on plants. Before their evolution earth was pretty inhospitable to our form of life. So, all we're saying is, "how do we get plants to grow on Venus?" Or in space. Or on Mars. It has little to do with the place we do it.

The other point is what I'm calling the "bratty kid" syndrome. When a bratty kid destroys his toy and starts eyeing another kid's, do you give it to him??? Homo sapiens is a travesty that deserves to die out, not exploit his monkey logic and fill the universe with bananas.
pandora4real
1 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2014
Erm...the magnitude of such a task seems to escape the author.


I'm proposing a DSM category for a syndrome you see repeated with conspiracy theories, pseudo-science...most of what people debate on the 'net.

lol "Scale" was #1 before I read your comments...

https://www.faceb...46853678
EWH
1 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2014
" If you set up a huge space-based shade and block all sunlight from hitting the atmosphere, the temperature would drop, and I mean *drop."

Nonsense. The atmosphere already reflects 90% of sunlight. The atmosphere keeps the planet hot by reflecting back the existing heat of the planet, which has enormous thermal inertia. If we cut off all sunlight, the atmosphere would not freeze out for at least millions of years, more likely hundreds of millions.
scottz
1 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2014
The way to start terraforming the planet would be to move it into an orbit consistent with earth orbit (by tractor beam?--not yet currently developed but perhaps possible or to somehow push the planet into a habitable zone orbit) and to see what changes that would bring.

And then watch what happens.

Certainly the cycle of overheating because of the planets orbital relationship to the sun would be affected. Perhaps that would eliminate some of the terra forming heavy lifting by allowing the moderating influence of an earth-like/habitable orbit to take hold on the planet and so speed into place the conditions of atmosphere conducive to habitability..
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (5) Jul 27, 2014
The only way to terraform Venus would be to cool the planet itself, that is the source of the heat not some fabled runaway greenhouse.
11791
Jul 27, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (1) Jul 28, 2014
The only way to terraform Venus would be to cool the planet itself, that is the source of the heat not some fabled runaway greenhouse.

Sure, the surface may be hellish, but it is nevertheless currently possible for life to exist in the lower and middle cloud layers of Venus – see "Astrobiology: The Case for Venus": https://web.archi...2310.pdf

So add water, seed the place and watch life adapt and terraform. If that doesn't work it will place serious constraints on quite a few theories.
Bob Osaka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 28, 2014
In science fiction all things are possible. In reality if anyone is capable of designing a probe/rover which could withstand more than a few seconds on the Venusian surface then perhaps we'd be one step closer to realizing the terraforming fantasy.
mooster75
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 28, 2014
Homo sapiens is a travesty that deserves to die out, not exploit his monkey logic and fill the universe with bananas.

You first; we'll follow, I swear.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jul 28, 2014
In science fiction all things are possible.

Yes. but there is good science fiction and bad science fiction. The difference is:
Good SciFi: Realistic (sounding) actions taken within a realistic timeframe and accounting for the change of humanity in that timeframe
Bad SciFi: Acting as if NOTHING ELSE changes until the day we acquire one specific technology to turn Venus into a bowl of strawberries.

The article is firmly seated in the latter category. It's all cool to think about planet shading screens, mass drivers being capable of hurling significant parts of a planet into the sun (and the power reactors needed for this), Bio-induced atmospheric change on planetary scales, and whatnot.

But you have to take into account the time until such tech is available and the time it would take to deploy and use it. By that time we'll have WAY easier tech (habitats/hollowed asteroids, hardened bodies, ...) and it won't matter.
EyeNStein
1 / 5 (1) Jul 28, 2014
I agree they might as well be planning to coat Venus in Meringue and strawberries but even wacky articles can set a thought in motion.

Based on our current asteroid maps:
1)Could we select one requiring a not so small delta-v. (beyond our current capabilities)
2) Select a smaller one which with an achievable delta-v could nudge the first one. Or slingshot the first past a planet for the final result we want.
3) Repeat with smaller lighter rocks with smaller delta-v to achieve same final delta-v result.

This delta-v amplification process could yield a mineral rich asteroid into lunar orbit. Or save the Earth from some projected future massive collision, from nearly-current technology.

I hope someone at NASA is looking at the accuracy of their space maps and the size of computer required for realistic projects. (But not to terraform Venus!)
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (2) Jul 28, 2014
Could we select one requiring a not so small delta-v.

A trojan would not require much in terms of delta v.
Anything else? Forget it (if it's supposed to be reasonably sized to even be worth getting - beyond scientific curiosity).

Also: Lots of nations might not approve of "nation X trying to shoot a largish asteroid at Earth and promising to insert it into orbit"...the probability of "Oopsie...there goes China (Russia/the US), Sorry" is something I can't see other nations taking lightly.

mineral rich asteroid

Check the volume of minerals mined on Earth (already refined) then look at what size of asteroid you'd need to be worth it. That capability is still beyond us for quite some time.

(Energywise it would be more efficient to extract/refine ore in situ and just fire the resulting refined material back. But that, too, would require spacecraft of SERIOIUS dimensions and ruggedness beyond anything we can currently dream up)

EyeNStein
1 / 5 (2) Jul 28, 2014
AAP:-However: Assuming we will one day need minerals in space, or to divert an extinction level event asteroid. I hope someone is looking at what we can currently achieve and the delta-v amplification technology needed to extend our capabilities.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 28, 2014
Probably much cheaper to look into digging deeper on this planet. We're sitting on a rock chock full of any kind of material you can think of - if you just dig down deep enough and/or care to take the trouble to separate out the elements you want.
We have barely scratched the top hundred meters or so in some select places.

Either way is MUCH cheaper than going out in spacecraft and start shaving down asteroids. (Granted: Way less cool/Hollywoody - but in the end that's not what it's about. )
FastEddy
not rated yet Jul 28, 2014
So, who asked for this?
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Jul 28, 2014
Probably much cheaper to look into digging deeper on this planet.

Not after paying off all the politicians and 'watermelons'.
There are no watermelons in space.
Mimath224
not rated yet Jul 28, 2014
You know, sometimes I wonder if someone deliberately starts such an idea just to see if people like it or not/profit in it? If we had the tech to change Venus then surely we could solve the 'Mars mission' problems too. I would also have thought going to Mars was also going in the right direction. IF there are exo planets suitable for human life (or close to) shouldn't that be our objective?
ryggesogn2
2.8 / 5 (4) Jul 28, 2014
The best idea I have heard for Venus is to float in the atmosphere at ~1 bar.
In addition to the challenge getting there, the only challenge would be protection from the atm. Advantage over Mars is the same gravity and atm pressure as Earth.
Start with dirigible automatic factories creating carbon fiber and oxygen and whatever else might be useful in the atm. Plenty of power from the sun.
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (1) Jul 28, 2014
The best idea I have heard for Venus is to float in the atmosphere at ~1 bar.
In addition to the challenge getting there, the only challenge would be protection from the atm. Advantage over Mars is the same gravity and atm pressure as Earth.
Start with dirigible automatic factories creating carbon fiber and oxygen and whatever else might be useful in the atm. Plenty of power from the sun.


So why are you telling us?

As you incessantly claim, only capitalists could properly handle such a project. Why not share your borrowed plans with your big oil corporate masters and see if they can profit from this somehow?

antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 29, 2014
Start with dirigible automatic factories

You have no clue about airships and the typo of mass that a 'factory' has that has any kind of production capacity beyond the pitifully minimal, do you?

Plenty of power from the sun.

You have no clue about what it looks like when you float in the Venus atmosphere, do you?

Advantage over Mars is the same gravity and atm pressure as Earth.

Erm. No. The atmosphere on Venus a LOT denser than on Earth. And pretty aggressive.

If that is 'the best idea' you've heard then you have no clue how to distinguish good from bad ideas.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 29, 2014
" 50 km above the surface, Venus has air pressure of approximately 1 bar and temperatures in the 0C-50C range, a quite comfortable environment for humans. Humans wouldn't require pressurized suits when outside, but it wouldn't quite be a shirtsleeves environment. We'd need air to breathe and protection from the sulfuric acid in the atmosphere. "
" In looking at Venus, the fact that struck Landis the most is that Earth's atmosphere of nitrogen and oxygen would actually float in Venus' atmosphere of carbon dioxide. "Because the atmosphere of Venus is CO2, the gases that we live in all the time, nitrogen and oxygen, would be a lifting gas," he said. "On Earth, we know to get something to lift, you need something lighter than air. Well, on Venus, guess what? Our air is lighter than air, or at least lighter than the Venus atmosphere." "
http://www.optcor...g-cities
Dr_toad
Jul 29, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
EyeNStein
3 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2014
For the under informed amphibians amongst us:
Delta-v is a generic term for a change of trajectory and speed. It can be direct via rockets or solar sails; indirect by slingshot or aerodrag; or unintentional by explosions (Apollo 13) or collisions.
The concept of delta-v is important in space for two reasons.
1) 'v' is continuous, often very large, and relative to any and everything else in a way that is rare in the friction filled environment of earth. Absolute-v does not exist.
2) delta-v is a change of relative velocity directly dependent on the mass of the object we wish to redirect. Which again can be huge relative to what man can achieve directly.

Hence the concept of amplification is important: A small, achievable delta-v can direct an object after a fast moving more massive object (Usually a craft after a planet) Gravity slingshot causes a larger delta-v. This can be repeated many times for a large delta-v: Amplified far higher that we could achieve directly by rockets.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2014
delta-v is jargon used by rocket scientists/engineers.

"Delta-v" stands for "delta velocity". Velocity is a vector and any change in the velocity vector could be called 'delta v'.

The velocity vector of a body in orbit is constantly changing with time in the presence a gravity force field. If the speed is consistent, then in general the orbit will be consistent. Changing speed changes the orbit, and the overall acceleration.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2014
Assuming we will one day need minerals in space

Minerals in space is a different critter. There space mining makes sense.

For a Moon base there are probably ample ores to be had 'locally' on the Moon (or for a Mars base you'd do mining on Mars). For asteroid bases where you can expect some minerals to be not too local it probably will make sense to mine nearby asteroids and lob that stuff over (simply letting it impact an collecting it later)

But that's all next (or the following) century stuff.

Changing speed changes the orbit, and the overall acceleration.

No and no.
The Earth changes speed along its orbit all the time without leaving its orbit. An elliptical orbit is still an orbit

And you can have changing speed without changing acceleration (just drop something to test this).
barakn
3.9 / 5 (7) Jul 29, 2014
The best idea I have heard for Venus is to float in the atmosphere at ~1 bar.
In addition to the challenge getting there, the only challenge would be protection from the atm. Advantage over Mars is the same gravity and atm pressure as Earth.
Start with dirigible automatic factories creating carbon fiber and oxygen and whatever else might be useful in the atm. Plenty of power from the sun.
1 bar is smack dab in the middle of the cloud deck where you'd have to deal with sulfuric acid and reduced sunlight as well as a temperature of 340 K. You'd have to go up to 0.1 bar to get out of the sulfuric acid clouds and into the sunlight, but then a human habitation filled with 1 bar of N2/O2 would not be self buoyant. You would need He or H2, but these gases escape easily and would need to be replaced periodically. There is some water and He, but the water would be needed for other purposes.

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