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View Full Version : Would it be possible to terraform Venus?



potoole
2012-Jun-08, 09:48 PM
The planet is almost the same size as Earth. Although its water has been lost, there are thick clouds of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) enshrouding the surface, so there is still hydrogen and oxygen. However, my chemistry has grown weak over the years, so I don't know what chemical reactions would be required to convert H2SO4 to H2O.

Also, the atmosphere consists of a heavy, thick covering of CO2. More oxygen plus carbon. I know there would be many, many other processes involved, which could make the whole venture impossible. But, just a thought. :o

Thanks
Patrick

potoole
2012-Jun-09, 12:18 AM
Oh, well.

Van Rijn
2012-Jun-09, 12:31 AM
There's a very long thread on this subject here:

http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/59971-Making-Venus-livable

Short answer: It would be very hard, would require permanent technological intervention, and is well beyond what we could do today. For details, read the thread.

potoole
2012-Jun-09, 03:09 AM
I read a few of those posts, and, for the most part, they give an extremely negative output on terraforming, of not only Venus, but Mars as well.

The biggest roadblock to human advancement and the spread of our species, throughout this solar system; much less the galaxy or the universe; is humankind itself. The reproduction of humans will outstrip the recources and wealth that Earth can provide. Sooner or later, we will slip into a deep barbaric 'dark age' where humans will barely survive. Eventually we will cause our own extinguishment, and that might be the end of human intelligence, and perhaps the only intelligence in the universe.

Sorry, I was raised during a time when we had great hope for the future, hope for great scientific advancement, and the 'knowledge' that peaople would learn tolerance and moderation.

Sorry, but when I read statements that declare something is impossible, it depresses me. Declaring impossibilities speaks of the ever growing lack of confidence in ourselves.

I know, its too soon for me to be somewhat controversial.

Patrick

publiusr
2012-Jun-09, 06:34 PM
It's about being realistic. Matter is tough and hard to deal with. So when I hear claims about over unity devices or other sci-fi fare, I balk. Try reading the Book The Science of Science Fiction, or this at least:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2069/1

We will be lucky just to have this for now: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2094/1

cjameshuff
2012-Jun-09, 07:28 PM
I read a few of those posts, and, for the most part, they give an extremely negative output on terraforming, of not only Venus, but Mars as well.

Well, we just don't have any particularly good candidates for terraforming in our solar system.



Sorry, but when I read statements that declare something is impossible, it depresses me. Declaring impossibilities speaks of the ever growing lack of confidence in ourselves.

It's not impossible. It's just exceptionally expensive, would probably never make either world comfortable for humans to inhabit, and would require constant technological intervention to maintain. It would also be an immense waste of natural resources. Mars could probably support a larger population in enclosed habitats with what it already has than it could if fully terraformed with a gravitationally bound atmosphere imported at vast expense, and the atmosphere of Venus itself is a valuable resource, almost ideal for buoyant structures and rich in useful carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen, and enough hydrogen to be of some use.

You would be better off "lunaforming" Mars...freezing out/compressing much of its atmosphere to reduce the atmospheric losses to solar power, eliminate dust storms, etc, and make use of its atmosphere and ice caps as raw material for propellants, polymers, agriculture, etc. You lose the ability to aerobrake, but also get rid of the wild variability in the atmosphere and gain the ability to use beamed propulsion systems from the surface, making it easier to ship materials to orbital destinations. Similarly, whatever effort you put into removing atmosphere from Venus and importing water would be much better directed to building orbital or atmospheric habitats.

dgavin
2012-Jun-09, 09:10 PM
Actualy with the material on Mars, it is within the currnt technology to 'Terraform' spefic places. For example some of the larger craters, with ice in the bottom of them, would be prima canditates for localized 'Dome' Terra Forming. Considering the number of craters on Mars that do have ice in the bottom of them, there are likely 20-75 viaable craters that could be easily domed over and become bio-spheres.

This is not counting the numerous Lava Tubes and Caves that probes have found, that this could also be done with.

The main issue with Terraforming Mars entirely, or Venus, is their lack of a strong magneic field to prevent uper atmospere losses due to charged partcle interactions.

Europa, is actualy a better candidater for Terraforming, as it's mostly water, is within Jupiters magnetic field, and it might be possible to use just a few nuclear gas heaters once you give it an atomospere, to keep it human temperature normal even with it's lesser amount of solar energy. Yes it would be a low gravity place, but thats really it's only draw back (besides maybe not having any land after melting the ice, but we can allways say, take a lot of dirt from mars, to europa to make floating land masses). Humans born and raised there after terraforming would adabt to it's gravity in a matter of a few generations, and be unable to live long term on say, earth, without gerenrations of reabdapting to a higher G environment.

cjameshuff
2012-Jun-09, 10:00 PM
Actualy with the material on Mars, it is within the currnt technology to 'Terraform' spefic places. For example some of the larger craters, with ice in the bottom of them, would be prima canditates for localized 'Dome' Terra Forming. Considering the number of craters on Mars that do have ice in the bottom of them, there are likely 20-75 viaable craters that could be easily domed over and become bio-spheres.

This is not counting the numerous Lava Tubes and Caves that probes have found, that this could also be done with.

Another option, tunnel into a glacier or other ice mass. But these would all be enclosed habitats...the arguments against terraforming do not apply to them, and they do not invalidate the arguments against terraforming.



The main issue with Terraforming Mars entirely, or Venus, is their lack of a strong magneic field to prevent uper atmospere losses due to charged partcle interactions.

A magnetic field is quite irrelevant. Lacking one certainly hasn't caused Venus to lose its atmosphere, and while it's likely a major contributor to the loss of hydrogen, the rate of loss would be so low that it's lost in the noise of terraforming activities. Especially for Mars, which receives about a quarter the sunlight and solar wind, and in fact still has something of a water cycle.



Europa, is actualy a better candidater for Terraforming, as it's mostly water, is within Jupiters magnetic field, and it might be possible to use just a few nuclear gas heaters once you give it an atomospere, to keep it human temperature normal even with it's lesser amount of solar energy. Yes it would be a low gravity place, but thats really it's only draw back (besides maybe not having any land after melting the ice, but we can allways say, take a lot of dirt from mars, to europa to make floating land masses). Humans born and raised there after terraforming would adabt to it's gravity in a matter of a few generations, and be unable to live long term on say, earth, without gerenrations of reabdapting to a higher G environment.

Europa can not be terraformed...it's far too small. Earth's moon is a better candidate. Gravity isn't a matter of human convenience, it's needed to keep the atmosphere in place and to achieve reasonable surface pressure. Titan has an atmosphere because of its higher escape velocity and cryogenic temperatures...the other moons have only trace atmospheres because they're too warm and small to keep them or too cold for them to remain gas. And due to the low gravity and small gravity well, Titan's atmosphere only achieves its surface pressures by having a greater mass of atmosphere than Earth's entire atmosphere, for a body with 1/6th the surface area of Earth. Even if Europa could hold onto its atmosphere, you'd need to transport the equivalent of Earth's entire atmosphere.

Zo0tie
2012-Jun-10, 02:04 AM
In order to Terraform Venus you would need to wield energy and material far beyond anything that we have at present. Spinning Venus up and removing the excess carbon dioxide alone would require the resources of a civilization somewhere between Type I (controlling the energy of a planet) and Type II (controlling the energy of a star). Terrforming Venus would never "make a profit" or save humanity from a dying earth. If we can't nurture and repair the damaged ecology of the Earth we will NEVER have the wisdom and skills to terraform Venus. It would have to be done as an act of pride and beauty, an art project as it were.

jimchmst
2012-Jun-10, 02:34 AM
Agreed. We already have a planet with everything we and our coinhabitants need to thrive. It behoves us to learn how to treat our planet with care and respect. Then small colonies on other planets might become an "art form" using the attributes already there and our increased learning and humility.

Trebuchet
2012-Jun-10, 03:28 PM
If we could just teleport about half of Venus' atmosphere to Mars, we'd be killing two birds with one stone.

cjameshuff
2012-Jun-10, 05:28 PM
If we could just teleport about half of Venus' atmosphere to Mars, we'd be killing two birds with one stone.

More like 2/3 of the nitrogen and about 1% of the CO2, which still leaves a huge amount of CO2 to put somewhere.

And there's still the rotation issue. Colonizing Venus as it is, your colonies can tap vast amounts of constant wind power and have essentially the same atmospheric conditions regardless of location, as they circle the planet with the atmosphere about once every 5 days. Terraforming Venus, you destroy this easily accessible energy source and convenient means of temperature regulation, and then have to deal with nearly 2 Earth months of sunlight (of which you'll probably be reflecting as much as you can with artificially maintained cloud layers, making it unavailable for solar power) followed as long a period of darkness and cold. Essentially an entire seasonal cycle every 117 Earth days, with a summer of uninterrupted daylight and winter of uninterrupted night more severe than anything seen on Earth. And with the added water and a full water cycle and weather system, weather patterns driven by double the solar energy input that Earth gets.

Van Rijn
2012-Jun-11, 08:38 AM
Sorry, I was raised during a time when we had great hope for the future, hope for great scientific advancement, and the 'knowledge' that peaople would learn tolerance and moderation.


I have great hope for the future, and think that we will populate the solar system in the coming centuries. You don't need to terraform Venus or Mars to do that. Most of the population would probably live off planet in space habitats anyway. Why live on Earth where you can't control the weather, where you have to worry about earthquakes, volcanoes (some that could, alone, destroy civilization if they blow), climate change, and on and on. Why not build habitats to be engineered the way you want them, no volcanoes or other nasty issues to worry about?

Ivan Viehoff
2012-Jun-11, 09:06 AM
The reproduction of humans will outstrip the recources and wealth that Earth can provide. Sooner or later, we will slip into a deep barbaric 'dark age' where humans will barely survive. Eventually we will cause our own extinguishment, and that might be the end of human intelligence, and perhaps the only intelligence in the universe.
...
Sorry, but when I read statements that declare something is impossible, it depresses me. Declaring impossibilities speaks of the ever growing lack of confidence in ourselves.
The outcomes in the first paragraph quoted are not inevitable (and indeed population is falling already in some parts of the world). It is not impossible that we will prevent it happening, which you ought to agree with given the second paragraph I quote.

swampyankee
2012-Jun-11, 01:35 PM
From a sense of "could Venus be terraformed without violating physical law?" Yes, we could terraform Venus. It just requires technologies which we don't currently have, and may never have.

potoole
2012-Jun-11, 02:38 PM
Ivan Viehoff
Established Member
The outcomes in the first paragraph quoted are not inevitable (and indeed population is falling already in some parts of the world).

Less than ten years ago, reports stated that human population had reached six billion (up from two billion reported in the early fifties). Now I'm hearing that population is approaching seven billion. When will the falling off start? It might be falling off in some parts of the world alright, but its in the most progressive parts of the world.

Grey
2012-Jun-11, 03:17 PM
I personally like IsaacKuo's suggestion of forgetting about terraforming Venus, but instead floating big habitats on its incredibly dense atmosphere.

potoole
2012-Jun-11, 05:45 PM
In order to Terraform Venus you would need to wield energy and material far beyond anything that we have at present. Spinning Venus up and removing the excess carbon dioxide alone would require the resources of a civilization somewhere between Type I (controlling the energy of a planet) and Type II (controlling the energy of a star). Terrforming Venus would never "make a profit" or save humanity from a dying earth. If we can't nurture and repair the damaged ecology of the Earth we will NEVER have the wisdom and skills to terraform Venus. It would have to be done as an act of pride and beauty, an art project as it were.

I wasn't suggesting or thinking that Venus could be terraformed in the near future. Just wondering if it would ever be possible. Perhaps if humans can hang around long enough to reach the level of a civilization between Type I and Type II, which might take thousands of years. Of course, by then humans will probably be a different species, part bio-engineered human and part robotic with highly developed artificial intelligence.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-11, 06:16 PM
If we can't nurture and repair the damaged ecology of the Earth we will NEVER have the wisdom and skills to terraform Venus. It would have to be done as an act of pride and beauty, an art project as it were.That's a ridiculous notion. Worlds without life and complex systems like Earth are exactly the places we should try managing an environment instead of tinkering with Earth. Do you work on your car when it's roaring down the road at highway speed or when it's shut off?

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-11, 06:22 PM
The planet is almost the same size as Earth. Although its water has been lost, there are thick clouds of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) enshrouding the surface, so there is still hydrogen and oxygen. However, my chemistry has grown weak over the years, so I don't know what chemical reactions would be required to convert H2SO4 to H2O.

Also, the atmosphere consists of a heavy, thick covering of CO2. More oxygen plus carbon. I know there would be many, many other processes involved, which could make the whole venture impossible. But, just a thought. :o

Thanks
Patrick

Short answer, no. Long answer, why would you want to? It's much more hospitable to human habitation with less expense right now.

As for Mars, which has also been mentioned, it seems impossibly difficult and expensive if we launch everything from Earth at inflated prices using current or outdated tech. If we develop a space infrastructure (nothing requiring any new physics) we can have solar reflectors cranked out rapidly from lunar aluminum foil and greenhouse gasses and small asteroids from near-Mars Space create heating. Later, larger objects from farther out may be brought in for extra water and other volatiles.

potoole
2012-Jun-11, 07:04 PM
Ara Pacis
Order of Kilopi

Short answer, no. Long answer, why would you want to? It's much more hospitable to human habitation with less expense right now.

Venus is?

NEOWatcher
2012-Jun-11, 07:38 PM
Do you work on your car when it's roaring down the road at highway speed or when it's shut off?
Do you keep roaring down the road if your car needs work? I don't.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Jun-11, 07:55 PM
Ara Pacis
Order of Kilopi

Short answer, no. Long answer, why would you want to? It's much more hospitable to human habitation with less expense right now.

Venus is?
Currently temperatures are fairly stable year round and energy is dirt cheap, you can cover every need with wind turbines.

Terraform it and you'll end up with extreme annual weather differences that are going to be harder to handle than the current situation.

cjameshuff
2012-Jun-11, 08:04 PM
Venus is?

Yes, Venus is. As described in numerous posts above.

potoole
2012-Jun-11, 08:31 PM
cjameshuff

Yes, Venus is. As described in numerous posts above.
__________________________________________________ _______________


Currently temperatures are fairly stable year round and energy is dirt cheap, you can cover every need with wind turbines.

Terraform it and you'll end up with extreme annual weather differences that are going to be harder to handle than the current situation.

I thought that extremely high surface temperatures and pressures would make it nearly impossible for any kind of human habitat. I remember reading, or hearing, that air movement at the surface was almost nil. Whereas, the high winds are in the upper atmosphere, but, maybe you are talking of high atmosphere habitat, as Grey stated.


Grey

I personally like IsaacKuo's suggestion of forgetting about terraforming Venus, but instead floating big habitats on its incredibly dense atmosphere.

Van Rijn
2012-Jun-12, 02:23 AM
I thought that extremely high surface temperatures and pressures would make it nearly impossible for any kind of human habitat.


On the surface, yes.



I remember reading, or hearing, that air movement at the surface was almost nil. Whereas, the high winds are in the upper atmosphere, but, maybe you are talking of high atmosphere habitat, as Grey stated.

Aerostats, yes. Conditions are much better at high altitude, and regular air (oxygen/nitrogen) would be a good lifting gas in the mostly CO2 atmosphere. This was discussed in the thread I previously linked to. Here's a detailed article on the idea:

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20030022668_2003025525.pdf

and here's an article on flying on Venus, which has a bit more on the wind issue:

http://www.engr.uky.edu/~bigblue/I2Event/NASATM-2002-211467_VenusFlight.pdf

Much of the air mass "super rotates" about Venus, so there is a high air speed relative the ground. If an aerostat were anchored to the surface, then at the preferred altitude it would have to deal with ~200 mile per hour wind, but if it moves with the air mass, that wouldn't be an issue. What might be an issue are unknowns: There might be other air movements that could cause significant wind shear.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-12, 05:15 AM
Do you keep roaring down the road if your car needs work? I don't.Don't make me pull this planet over and come back there!

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-12, 05:30 AM
Aerostats, yes. Conditions are much better at high altitude, and regular air (oxygen/nitrogen) would be a good lifting gas in the mostly CO2 atmosphere. This was discussed in the thread I previously linked to. Here's a detailed article on the idea:Right, although I've been thinking that a more dynamic mobile/airship design might be useful than something as passive as a balloon or a tensegrity sphere. Evne though breathable air is a lifting gas, we still might want to incorporate thermal and LTA buoyancy systems inside the envelope for either stability or for manage a better height if circumstances require it.

mutleyeng
2012-Jun-12, 05:12 PM
the first step is always to place a base i guess, but in the case of a floating station in venus atmosphere the problem of getting to and from it would be immense wouldnt it?

cjameshuff
2012-Jun-12, 05:19 PM
the first step is always to place a base i guess, but in the case of a floating station in venus atmosphere the problem of getting to and from it would be immense wouldnt it?

Not particularly worse than the difficulty of getting to or from the surface. Actually, the dense atmosphere of Venus makes it the easiest planet to land on...you'd be making the difficulty considerably worse by terraforming it.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-12, 09:13 PM
the first step is always to place a base i guess, but in the case of a floating station in venus atmosphere the problem of getting to and from it would be immense wouldnt it?We've got there really cool things called airplanes... :)

Wait, did you mean getting onto and off of the planet? why do you think it would be difficult?

mutleyeng
2012-Jun-12, 09:55 PM
no, i meant earth to a floating venus base and back to earth again.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-13, 03:50 AM
Well, with the exception of the entrance to and exit from the venerean atmosphere, the inter-orbital trajectory requirements would be the same. For some interesting ideas on those, check out this site (http://clowder.net/hop/railroad/Venus.html) by one of our posters