View Full Version : Which would be easier to terraform- Mars or Venus?

Banquo's Ghost
2002-Dec-19, 03:07 PM
I say Venus- Venus is approximately as large as Earth- Venus already has a dense atomosphere- just a matter of engineering it- Venus can hold an atmosphere...etc...the problems- cooling the planet down and keeping it cool-toxic atmosphere needs to be converted to something more Earth like-etc...

Interestingly there are microbial life forms that live deep within the Earth's crust under extremes of high temp and pressure...what if we could gene engineer these puppies for export to Venus? A could of dust between venus & the sun would serve as a "sun shade".

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Banquo's Ghost on 2002-12-19 11:39 ]</font>

2002-Dec-19, 03:44 PM
A few nuclear winters can cool that Venus down quite sufficiently. Interestingly, we can start testing that terraforming tech right now....

2002-Dec-19, 04:42 PM
The terraformation of Venus was discussed before (briefly) in this thread (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=1012&forum=2&12).

I wonder if the slow rotation of the planet wouldn’t pose a problem, even if you could fix the atmosphere. There would be very long days and nights. That should alternately make the planet extremely hot and extremely cold, I imagine.

[Fixed link and spelling.]

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: informant on 2002-12-19 11:54 ]</font>

Banquo's Ghost
2002-Dec-19, 04:51 PM
On 2002-12-19 11:42, informant wrote:
The terraformation of Venus was discussed before (briefly) in this thread (http:// http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=1012&forum=2).

I wonder if the slow rotation of the planet wouldn’t pose a problem, even if you could fix the atmosphere. There would be very long days and nights. That should alternately make the planet extremely hot and extremely cold, I imagine.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: informant on 2002-12-19 11:44 ]</font>

It might be possible to spin Venus up. I'm not sure what effect the impacting of comets would have on a planet's rotation. In Alexander Jablokov's book "Deepdrive"; he talks about a terraformed Venus and the cold "long nights". It's a cool book btw.

2002-Dec-19, 05:15 PM
Haven't you people ever seen a movie? You just speed it up with a Nuclear Weapon™. Anybody knows Nuclear Weapons™ can do anything, whether it's blow up giant asteroids or get the Earth's core rotating again.

2002-Dec-19, 06:29 PM
Aren't you forgetting something REALLY important? Nuclear Weapons are no match for the state-of-the-art, almighty NU-CU-LAR Weapons /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

2002-Dec-19, 06:35 PM
Ben Bova wrote a book recently called "Venus" which is about a manned expedition to Venus - actually pretty interesting and worth a read. No terraforming, but an interesting tale about - largely - ballooning through the Venusian atmosphere.

2002-Dec-19, 07:02 PM
I'd pick Mars. You can heat up a planet much faster than cool one off. All you need is a nice big impact.

Perhaps an water/ammonia-ice comet, as Zubrin describes in his book Entering Space. In a matter of decades you end up with an atmosphere thick and warm enough to walk around outside with an oxygen mask instead of a space suit.

2002-Dec-19, 07:03 PM
OK in regards to terraforming mars what ever we pump into the atmosphere using our enviromental destroying technologies weve perfected iun the last 100 years.

Isnt all going to be robbed by the sun anyway? Does anybody know how much the sun is capable of stealing from poor defenseless mars?

2002-Dec-19, 08:31 PM
On 2002-12-19 14:03, RickNZ wrote:
OK in regards to terraforming mars what ever we pump into the atmosphere using our enviromental destroying technologies weve perfected iun the last 100 years.

Isnt all going to be robbed by the sun anyway? Does anybody know how much the sun is capable of stealing from poor defenseless mars?

Not sure what you mean here. UV from the Sun goes all the way to Mars' surface--any greenhouse gasses we put in Mars' atmosphere will be degraded pretty quickly. Then the solar wind will carry away the lighter stuff.

It might end up being easier to roof over Mars than to terraform it in the traditional sense. Hey, i know. We can build a crystal roof over Mars, then put another roof over that and fill the space in between with water (for radiation shielding or meteor protection or something). And whenever the colonists are bad we can dump the water on them.

David Hall
2002-Dec-20, 01:26 PM
And we put a great big door in it so our spaceships can go in and out, right?

We just need to make sure we put a combination into the lock that can't be easily guessed.

How about 1..2..3..4..5?

2002-Dec-20, 03:16 PM
On 2002-12-20 08:26, David Hall wrote:

How about 1..2..3..4..5?

That's amazing! I have exactly the same combination on my luggage!

2002-Dec-20, 04:15 PM
A hard choice. The rotation issue with Venus would be very difficult and no magnetosphere for either. I guess you could orbit huge sheets of UV filtering mylar over specific areas, but Mars needs all the heat it can get. And you would need to cool down Venus anyway before you could get the atmosphere to stabilize.

Hmmm, maybe we'd better work harder on keeping Earth healthy. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Donnie B.
2002-Dec-20, 05:02 PM
Okay, here's the plan...

We swap the positions of Mars and Venus.

Mars warms up, melting the ice caps and outgassing a CO2 atmosphere, and we can finish off the terraforming with genetically engineered plants.

Venus cools down, the CO2 freezes out (maybe we can ship some of it to Mars to help the process along there), and we end up with a nice Earthlike sister planet. We can speed up its rotation while we move it.

Only one little problem I can see... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

David Hall
2002-Dec-20, 05:07 PM
I say Mars. Mars is already moderately habitable, even though we need lots of high-tech equipment to do it. Venus, OTOH, would just melt away anything we put down. We could actually have settlements in place before we even began work. At the very least, it would bemuch easier to monitor the changes.

2002-Dec-20, 10:33 PM
I say Mars as well. It already has a somewhat, but not very easily, accessible source of CO2 in the polar ice caps. So we can:

A) Melt the caps, releasing the CO2


B) Build CO2 producing factories (I think I heard of this scenario proposed when I was in 5th grade or something)

After we have a nice CO2 rich atmosphere we bring in the plants to convert it to O2. Trees would be ideal but unless they go through some heavy genetic engineering I doubt they'd grow in martian soil, not to mention they still need a source of water. I read somewhere (on this board I believe) that the best bet would be algae. Some algae isn't all that picky about it's environment so its pretty ideal.

The other problem mentioned on this thread is the lack of gravity on Mars would couse many of these gasses to escape. No feasible way around this I'm afraid. Sure we could crash Phobos and Deimos into Mars to increase its mass, but I don't think I have to tell you all the problems that might casue....

Overall I think we may have to do with a Mt. Everest type atmoshpere on Mars; breathable, but so thin you would have to take an occasional draw from an oxygen mask.

2002-Dec-20, 10:46 PM
With regard to the problem of putting plants on Mars, it might help a lot to put anaerobic bacteria on the surface. If they could survive, their waste products could be very beneficial to putting plants in there long term.

The other issue is Nitrogen. Is there enough nitrogen in/on Mars to sustain plants?

Perhaps lichens would be the first to be able to survive.

2002-Dec-20, 11:05 PM
Let's assume a robust interplanetary society would be in place prior to any meaningful terraforming of Venus - since you'd need to pound Venus with a whole bunch of comets anyway to get the water, couldn't you hit the planet at a pretty oblique angle to add a little bit of angular momentum?

I know the masses are enormously different with say, a 1 mile water-ice comet, and with a 7500 mile wide planet, but if you hit the planet at 10km/sec, it'd have to help a little bit, yes? Or would we manage to shorten the day from, I dunno, 227 days to 220 after pounding Venus every day for ten years...

2002-Dec-21, 12:59 AM
Another thought about smashing bits of rock and ices into Venus is that, if devastating enough, it might be able to shove some of the bad atmosphere off the planet. On Venus this would help reduce the ambient pressure and throw off the CO2.

The same type of thing could be done to melt the polar caps on Mars. I would think it safer than using nuclear devices. My bet is on Mars as the most easily terraformed planet.

Something that I have thought of since I first heard the notion of terraforming Venus, would it be possible for us to build a moon in orbit of Venus to act as a solar shield? If we would have the capability to drag in comets and meteors to slam them into Venus, why not just shepard them into an orbit around Venus and fuse them together using solar energy (ala James Bond. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif)?

Anyway, enough rambling for now. -Colt

2002-Dec-21, 01:45 AM
What would be easier to terraform? Definitely Mars IMO, because it's the most Earth-like planet.

2002-Dec-21, 06:19 PM

Mars maybe easier to terraform that we thought. If there's running water, it means we can seed the planet more easily. In Red Planet they used nuclear (not NU-CU-LAR you'll notice) weapons to melt the ice-caps. That may be unnecessary.

2002-Dec-21, 09:33 PM
Well, the biggest argument against using nukular (ok, nuclear) weapons is that the CO2 escaping from the melted caps would carry the radiation along with it. Not good. Also, any water that may be found beneath the caps would be contaminated as well. Nukes are almost definately out of the question. I'd say that melting the caps would end up being the second most difficult task next to maintaining a thick atmosphere.

2002-Dec-21, 11:02 PM
That's one reason why the discovery of running water on Mars makes things so much easier. I believe that the more favourable method for melting the ice caps is two use parabolic mirrors to focus sunlight onto them.

2002-Dec-21, 11:18 PM
On 2002-12-21 18:02, Glom wrote:
I believe that the more favourable method for melting the ice caps is two use parabolic mirrors to focus sunlight onto them.Yes, that's an oft discussed idea.
Furthermore, keeping the atmosphere from escaping is quite possible by controlled ionization and charge induction in it...

2002-Dec-22, 01:22 AM
What about Total Recall type of deposits? Large areas under the surface that filled witht he last liquid water and then froze as the planet cooled. Not saying that we would find alien artifacts there. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif I think that in the movie those deposits were under Olympus Mons, where it might be possible to find empty lava tubes. -Colt

2002-Dec-22, 09:08 PM
My terminlogy often leaves a lot to be desired.

I was refering to mars limited gravity and reduced magnetic feild and there never ending battle with solar wind which i assume is the reason why mars atmosphere is so thin in the first place.

Or correct me if im wrong and space tourism does have great potential to be found in martian northern lights?

My question in plain inglis is how fast would atmosphere be robbed from mars?

Senor Molinero
2002-Dec-24, 12:37 AM
Mars definitely, for all of the above reasons. Question: Why is the atmosphere on Mars so thin? At some time in its history it was certainly more substantial. Enough to have large oceans of liquid water as evidenced by the Vastitas Borealis, Valles Marineris et al. Where did the atmosphere go? IMHO there was a catastrophic impact (Hellas Basin?) that sent a shock wave above escape velocity around the planet. The remaining water that did not boil away then froze.
The new terraformed atmosphere must come from within by starting up the volcanoes again (those highly versatile nukes???). Crash a few dozen small comets into the surface (not too big now, we don't want a repeat of Hellas, do we?) and Robert's your mother's brother.
Once the atmosphere is back up to reasonable, greenhouse takes over, the caps, sub-arenian ice and crashed comets melt and we plant some algae to generate oxygen.
Stir generously, let stand for 200 years and move in.

2002-Dec-24, 04:35 AM
Does Mars have enough internal heat to use as an option for heating the surface? What facts do we know about its core?

In Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, he suggests creating huge 'mohole' tunnels down to the interior to realease some of this heat. Also he describes using genetically engineered bacteria, lichen, moss, etc. to begin the atmospheric transformation. For example, black lichen engineered to thrive in polar snow would also aborb some solar heat as well as release oxygen.

2003-Jan-07, 12:49 PM
It may help to clarify the goals you want to achieve. Do you want some place you can run arround naked on, like Earth? Thats a pretty tall order. Doubt any of us will be arround to see any halfway serious thought on this. Here's why (I hope someone can show me I'm wrong here).

I would imagine making an atmospher closer to earth's in THICKNESS would be much easier than making one closer to Earth's in COMPOSITION. O2 requires a stable biosphere - there is no known other known means of replenishing it. We have failed misserably in trying to put together an ecosystem big enough to maintain a building, much less a planet. The more we learn about Chaos theory, the more difficult it appears to make a stable ecosystem. Something small you didn't account for will knock the system off ballance.

Also - With both Mars and Venus - ya kind of have to settle with having most of the atmosphere being CO2. This would make it poisonous to humans if it were thick enough to also contain enough O2 to breath. If you want Nitrogen or something like it instead - I don't see any means of getting it other than manufacturing it on site or shipping it in. And that is probably always going to be impractical for the ammounts that we require. You need some means of tricking nature into making it for you.....And then , at least on Venus, you have to get rid of all that CO2.

Or do you simply want to be able to grow some plants there? This sounds the most feasable in the short term, to me. At least on Mars. If you are willing to use nukes, and are also willing to risk damaging any existing ecosystem, I bet we could do this in time for some of us to see it. Just need a bit more CO2...and ways to unleash it have been discussed. You do, however, need a small but non-trivial ammount of O2 because plants use it as a catalyst in their own respiration. This could be tough.

Do you want to only eliminate the need for pressure suits? On Mars, that would take even longer than growing the plants - but there are plans that outline how we could take some of the first steps even with present day tech. A thick enough CO2 atmosphere would do. You would still have to use breathing gear and protection from the heat or cold. This is the situation today on Titan, believe it or not. Titan is the only place in the Solar System besides Earth where you can stand on solid ground without a pressure suit. And that nice atmosphere is Nitrogen - same as 70+ % of Earths.

It will be really exciting to see what Cassini shows us. Just from what we already know, Titan is more hospitable to humans than even Mars is in many ways. Its atmosphere (and in Terreforming the atmosphere is everything) is already the closest match to Earth's that we've seen. There is probably no life to worry about destroying...but there are plenty of carbon compounds that any life forms used for terreforming could use for energy and reproduction. This world could have some interesting possibilities.

There is a real problem with terraforming - allot of the economic benefits of doing it only happen when you get the planet to the "you can run naked into the sunset" stage /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif . Pressure suits are merely an inconvenience, the costs of using them are pretty trivial in the context of a program to settle a planet. This is especially considering how much of the day (95%...even 99%) the majority of people in developed countries spend indoors even on Earth. Making a shelter that will do if you only want to grow plants in it is pretty easy - allot easier than making a fully functional earth-equivalent living quarters. So there is not much economic incentive to spend the resources required to terraform a planet even if you do intend to settle it.

Kaptain K
2003-Jan-07, 03:14 PM
I am hesitant to bring this up since this is not a language board, but you consistently misuse the word "allot" (allocate or dispense) for "a lot". No offense intended. Just trying to help.

Be alert! The world needs more lerts.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kaptain K on 2003-01-07 10:15 ]</font>

Bill S.
2003-Jan-07, 04:19 PM
All this talk of atmospheric production on other planets puts me in the mind of The Nitrogen Fix. Anyone ever read the book? It's quite good...