Ken Kalfus has written a long post called the The Folly of Mars, trying to throw cold water on the idea of exploring and colonizing Mars. But don't worry, space enthusiasts. Even if there are difficulties in colonizing Mars, there is another local possibility: colonizing Venus.
idea of colonizing Venus may seem crazy to any person familiar with
the basic facts about the planet. The surface of the planet is
insanely hot (about 735 degrees Kelvin), so hot that it would quickly
kill any human who tried to walk on it, even if he had a very good
space suit. But there is another possibility. We could colonize the
skies of Venus, by creating floating balloon cities there.
this paper written by a NASA expert, it is proposed that we could
create floating colonies about 50 kilometers above the surface of
Venus. At this level the atmospheric pressure and gravity is roughly
equal to that of Earth. Temperatures are also between 0 and 50
degrees Centrigrade (between 32 degrees and 122 degrees Fahrenheit),
similar to temperatures on Earth.
floating colonies would not be big balloons themselves, but would be
suspended by giant balloons that might have an inner-tube structure,
as shown in my visual below:
colonists couldn't actually breathe the atmosphere of Venus, which is
mainly carbon dioxide. But it would be easy to get oxygen for
breathing, by extracting oxygen from the carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere. Such an operation could be easily powered by the abundant
solar energy available on Venus, where it's easier to get solar
kind of life would colonists have in such a colony? The heavy winds
on Venus would no doubt cause a frequent rocking of the colony. This
would be something of a drawback. It might result in sea-sickness
even worse than you would experience on a long sea voyage. Perhaps
NASA would first need to develop some kind of super-effective
sea-sickness tablet. Or perhaps it could create some type of fancy
air-jet stabilization technology that would prevent the suspended
colony from rocking too much.
imagine it might be hard to recruit colonists for such a colony. I
can only imagine the recruiting posters that NASA might produce:
becoming a colonist would have to resign himself to living forever in
some artificial space habitat, without ever again being able to walk
on the surface of a planet. But there might be one cool perk for
colonists. NASA could develop shuttle vehicles for transporting cargo
between the different floating colonies. Imagine the fun of riding
around in such a vehicle, shuttling between different floating Venus
colonies. This might be the “hook” that could lure in many a
potential thrill seeker.