Mars Tourism Article: Elysium

Elysium
Image Credit: NASA

An introduction to the biggest available island on Mars

For the ambitious amongst you, Elysium has the potential to be the biggest island on Mars after terraforming. Its broad plains and gigantic craters give building and exploration options that will keep you busy. Read on to discover what you can do on your visit here.

Right on the equator

Centered directly in the heart of Mars, Elysium is the second largest volcanic region on the planet. 1060 by 1490 miles in size and containing 4 volcanoes, this vast area is far from boring. With eruptions a daily occurrence you’ll need to stay on your toes here! They are a sight to behold and are no doubt one of the most popular tourist attractions on the planet. There are also several large trenches in the area, so be careful to remember where you placed your belongings as they could easily get lost!

Ash-covered ice

Elysium
Image Credit: NASA

There is a large volume of ice in the Elysium Planitia similar to the size of the North Sea back here on planet Earth. Unfortunately, the ice is covered by a layer of ash, meaning that you’d be better off leaving your ice skates at home. The ice is thought to have formed at least 2 million years ago, and with terraforming technologies available we’re ensuring it melts as carefully and cleanly as possible. Perhaps in the future this place would be perfect for a relaxing swim, but you’ll have to keep that idea ‘on ice’ for now. 

Rootless cones

If this is your first visit to the heaven on Mars that is Elysium, you’ve probably never heard of these before. When the buried ice is heated by nearby lava, it vaporizes and expands under the ground. This creates a mini explosion, forming a cone in the land. These grooves are well-suited for use as a natural skatepark, and you may find people landing tricks all around you here. If you want to join in just make sure you bring a helmet, as some of them are incredibly steep!

The biggest island on Mars after terraforming

Size matters, and ambitious explorers will also find a large volume of flat terrain here. Once terraforming is complete, this will be the biggest island on Mars, supporting large quantities of life. The vast nature of the area means this could easily become the economic capital of Mars, dependent on the objectives of those who take control here. All this is enough to keep you extremely busy, as conditions may pose problems to terraforming that you may not have anticipated. 

Elysium is an essential visit

If you’re coming to Mars, you simply must visit the Elysium area. With its broad landscape, nearby volcanoes, and interesting surface, the island is begging for exploration and development. We suggest you see this place in all its beauty, as it’s a land in transition from a red wasteland to a glorious Garden of Eden on Mars!

How to make the most of your trip to Valles Marineris

Valles Marineris
Credit: NASA

All you need to know before visiting one of the largest canyons in our solar system: Valles Marineris.

First of all, let’s be clear: a day visit is not going to cut it for this ragged geological scar (pardon the pun). Valles Marineris covers nearly one fifth of the circumference of Mars, making it not only Mars’ largest canyons but one of the largest canyons in the solar system.

Spanning 4,000 kilometres, it would take any law-abiding person (who complies to the 96kmh regulation currently in place for all forms of surface space travel) around 41 hours just to drive from one end of the ravine to the other. Make the most of your trip to Mariner Valley and spread your drive over three or four days. Trust us, you’ll want some time for a few snaps of the terrifying Noctis Labyrinthus in the west of the valley.

How to subsist the Noctis Labyrinthus in Valles Marineris?

Valles Marineris
Credit: ESA

If you haven’t figured it out already, Noctis Labyrinthus simply translates to the Labyrinth of the Night. Sound appealing? Even the Greeks would never have envisioned that their god of war could be home to such a cataclysmic crack.

If you’re starting your trip at the west of Valles Marineris, near Mars’ equator, the Labyrinth of the Night will be your first mission. Ensure you are appropriately dressed, with the correct equipment to negotiate the copious boulders and debris of past avalanches and rockslides that have come to rest at the bottom of the maze of valleys and canyons.

On the plus side, the west side of the valley offers average temperatures of -100℉, a significant 50 °F warmer than other regions of the red planet. 

Exploring the chasmata of Valles Marineris

Valles Marineris
Credit: Science Library

If (not when) you manage to subsist Mars’ most treacherous path, staggering views await you. Perhaps not the dazzling views you might get from the peak of Olympus Mons, but certainly glimpses of a chasmic death that will send you staggering away.

The Melas chasma comprises the deepest point of the entire canyon system. At the east of Valles Marineris, the chasma measures a towering 11km deep. As well as offering incredible views, the extreme depths and steep cliffs also, somewhat surprisingly, may tempt you to stay longer at the bottom of the pit.

Due to the deep cliffs, the bottom of Melas chasma has the highest natural air pressure of Mars, making the location very almost habitable by colonisers. Oh, and don’t forget the entertainment! 

You and your fellow settlers would be free to spend many filled-days scouring the ancient riverbeds in search of Martian fossils. What’s that, they don’t exist? Not according to the Mars Global Surveyor camera, which spotted some layering of material suggesting that Melas may be the site of an ancient subaqueous setting waiting to be rediscovered. 

Understanding the formation of Valles Marineris

Scientists believe that billions of years ago, Mars may have been the optimal destination for terraforming, rich with water. As molten rock pushed through the volcanic Tharsis region, the strain on Mars’ crust would have caused large faults and fractures. The spreading cracks would have facilitated an upward rush of subsurface water, carving a series of channels and forming the Valles Marineris that we see today.

Many parts of Mariner Valley, however, remain mysteries to human understanding. Why did the flow of water carve the west of the valley into an ungovernable maze of the night and the east into a deep chasm of relief?

Maybe you can use your trip to Valles Marineris to answer some of these questions!

Olympus Mons: Planning Your Visit

Everything you need to know before visiting the biggest volcano in our solar system. 

Olympus Mons
Credit: NASA

If you’re planning a trip to Mars, Olympus Mons is undoubtedly at the top of your list (get it?). Lying along the Tharsis Bulge, a volcanic plateau, Mars’ volcano rises over 18km higher than Mount Everest, at a towering height of 27km. Olympus Mons is not only imposing in height, but also in diameter, covering 600km from one side to the other.

Negotiating the size of Olympus Mons

Olympus Mons
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Despite the staggering size of Olympus Mons in both height and width, do not be discouraged, the average slope increase is a meager 5%. This somewhat surprising fact for an area that at first seems uninhabitable, can be explained by Olympus Mons’ profile as a shield volcano.

Shield volcanoes are characterised by a broad dome shape with gently sloping sides which typically occurs from low viscosity lava flows. Over millions and millions of years, the fluid basaltic lava which erupts from vents or fissures on the surface of the volcano builds up to form the broad profile that we see with Olympus Mons. 

So as long as your space boots can withstand the heat and slightly unstable grounding of a continuous lava flow, Olympus Mons can be considered a gentle stroll for the entire family. 

Is Olympus Mons really worth the visit?

Olympus Mons
Credit: NASA

Okay, so Mars’ volcano is big, but would Hawaii’s Mauna Loa not be a sufficient substitute? Well, according to scientists, the differences can be linked back to fundamental disparities between the structure of the Earth compared to Mars.

The red planet has a significantly lower surface gravity as well as much higher eruption rates. This enables lava to continue building and building way beyond what Earth’s boringly pleasant atmosphere would allow. 

The organisation and characteristics of tectonic plates on the two planets is also thought to play a critical role in the creation of a volcano so radically different from anything you could find on Earth. 

On Earth, the tectonic plates have always moved at a very slow yet constant rate. This means that when the Pacific Plate moved over a hot spot 4.5 million years ago, multiple eruptions occurred at different geographical points, thus creating the Hawaiian Islands. 

On Mars, however, tectonic plate movement is very limited. When lava flows from a hot spot onto the surface, it does so in a single spot, causing a slow, steady but relentless build-up of extrusive igneous rock.

Olympus Mons may just be a big pile of rock, but it is a pile of rock you can’t find anywhere else in the known universe.

Why not visit Valles Marineris while you’re there?

Valles Marineris

Located near the Martian equator, Olympus Mons offers the perfect base for visiting some of Mars’ other top attractions. From the highest peak to the deepest canyon, extend your trip by taking a peer down the nearby Valles Marineris before returning to the Mothership. 

At a size greater than Earth’s North American continent and 7km deep, the ascent will prove considerably more difficult than that of Olympus Mons. So please, after the dazzling heights and dizzying views of the volcano, don’t let a 3.5 billion year old crack have the better of you!

Make the discovery and settle the red planet

In terraforming times, we may be well beyond the dreams of the Italian astronomer, Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli. Schiaparelli first noticed the sizeable mass on Mars’ surface in the second half of the nineteenth century. But Olympus Mons still waits to be settled.

Be careful though — Mars has not yet been pronounced volcanically dead, and our closest neighbour might be as easy to terraform as the frozen water poles would suggest. 

Rover Memorial Sites: Where to see the historical first tracks

Rover
Credit: NASA

Explore ancient history and visit the rover memorial sites. 

When humanity first began to investigate the (then) red planet of Mars, they needed something on the ground. That’s where the much-loved Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity came into existence. 

Curiosity: A History

Curiosity Rover
Credit: NASA

The journey for this little car sized rover began on November 26, 2011, when it was thrust into the bounds of space from Cape Canaveral at exactly 15:02. After a lengthy 560 million kilometre journey, Curiosity managed to land on Aeolis Palus on August 6, 2012. No easy feat given that the landing site was a mere 2.4km away from the designated center of the landing field. 

The site was originally picked because it seemed the most likely area to house conditions which could have or could still potentially house microbial life. Curiosity’s mission? Explore the length and possibility of water on Mars as well as begin to study the planet to determine its suitability for human habitation.

At first, the mission was expected to last for two years, but in December of 2012 the mission was extended indefinitely. As of 2532, Curiosity is obviously no longer roaming around the red planet — after all, we have a permanent presence on the surface now. Instead, some of the rover’s tracks have been preserved, and you can still see the little rover’s final resting place on the slopes of Mount Sharp today.

Opportunity: Breaking Earth’s heart one message at a time

When those with a loving heart think of Mars rovers’, they tend to think of Opportunity. 

After a particularly bad dust storm the rover was either damaged beyond repair or was covered in so much dust that its solar panels weren’t able to recharge the batteries. The rover won the hearts of the people with its final message back to Earth, “My battery is low and it’s getting dark”. 

These simple but haunting words drew lots of attention, but it should be noted that Opportunity never actually said these words — a NASA official rephrased the rover’s final scientific readings on low power and high atmospheric opacity somewhat more poetically. Nevertheless, Opportunity remained in the hearts of humanity, with early Mars pioneers swearing to retrieve the lonely little rover and give it its due. It now rests in the Martian History Museum alongside Curiosity and the countless other bots Earth launched over the decades, alone no more.

Why not follow in the footsteps of the rovers?

The areas where these rovers finished their routes are now recognised international parklands. It was, in fact, in the Aeolis Palus region of the Gale where some of Mars’ first standing water was able to be stored after atmospheric conditions allowed. As for Mount Sharp, the hiking is simply incredible amongst the beautiful (now native) conifer trees and other fauna.

Why not revisit what Mars might have been like when the rovers were exploring by visiting a simulator located in one of the many Hab Dome centers? You’ll be transported back to a time when red dust was as far as the eye could see, where there was no atmosphere, and even where there were no settlers! Thanks to terraforming, that’s no longer the case, but it’s always worth remembering just how far we Martians have come!

Let’s Visit: Moons of Mars — Phobos and Deimos

All you need to know about the two Martian Moons, Phobos and Deimos.

Mars Moons Phobos and Deimos
Credit: NASA

Orbiting Mars are two moons, Phobos and Deimos, with very similar surface materials to the many asteroids that make up the outer asteroid belt. In other words, Phobos and Deimos are two very big lumps of space rock — space rock with a fascinating history.

Who discovered Phobos and Deimos?

Credit: WikiData

Both moons of Mars were discovered in 1877 by American astronomer, Asaph Hall. However, what most space settlers don’t realise is that — like much of Earth’s history — there was a woman behind the discovery. 

Frustrated and deflated after years of work, Asaph was about to give up on his search for a moon that orbited the red planet. It was his wife, Angelina that encouraged him not to throw away his dreams quite yet. 

The next night, Asaph saw for the very first time (of the entire human species) the smaller of the two moons, Deimos, through the narrow viewfinder (although the best of the time) of the United States Naval Observatory (USNO) 66cm telescope. Just six nights later, he discovered Phobos.

Where do the names Phobos and Deimos come from?

phobos and deimos greek gods
Credit: Julia Van Hellen

After discovering the two Martian moons, Asaph Hall named them after twin characters from Greek mythology. Phobos and Deimos are the sons of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess associated with love, pleasure, beauty, passion and procreation, known to the Romans as Venus, and Ares — the Greek god which represents the untamed and violent aspect of war, whose Roman counterpart is Mars. 

The twins would often be depicted as horses, accompanying their father to battle. Phobos personified feelings of fear, while Deimos personified feelings of dread felt by those heading to war.

What are the characteristics of the two moons of Mars?

Moons of Mars phobos and deimos
Credit: NASA

Mars’ two moons are oddly shaped and among the smallest moons in our solar system. They are lumpy, riddled with craters, and covered with dust and loose rocks. Not sounding like a great holiday destination? Think again!

If you’re an adrenaline seeker, Phobos might actually be the place for you. As the larger of the two moons, Phobos orbits only 6,000 kilometers from the surface of Mars, that’s closer than any other moon. Not only that, Phobos whizzes around Mars at a rapid rate of three orbits a day. 

Don’t delay your visit too long, though, as the moon is gradually spiraling closer and closer to Mars; within 50 million years, Phobos will either crash or break apart and become part of the asteroid belt. Trust us, you don’t want to be taking you holiday on Phobos when that happens. 

If you’re looking for a more sedate holiday, Deimos is the moon for you. With an axis of only 16 km, Deimos is the perfect desert moon. The smaller of the two moons soars around Mars at a gentle orbit of 30 hours, around 20,000 km from the surface of the red planet, giving you glorious vistas without the fear of, well, fear (just a little Phobos humor we have around here). 

At least for now (before Phobos collides with Mars), the two moons might actually be the best place for observing the fiery red planet of Ares. From the Mars-facing side of the moons, Mars takes up nearly the entire sky, offering a perfect opportunity for surface assessment before terraforming. What’s more, you would be shielded from cosmic rays and solar radiation for nearly two-thirds of every orbit. It doesn’t get much better than that!

The Life of a Star-Settler: Living on Mars

Life on Mars

It’s been 50 years since the first settlers arrived and humans began living on Mars. 

May 18th, 2452: I’ve lived here on Mars all of my life, but that can’t be said for some of the old timers. They knew a different life before launching into the stars. Earth had been dying. Years of reckless fossil fuel burning, tail-to-tail traffic jams, and plundering Mother Earth of her natural resources led to the planet rebelling. Humanity needed an alternative, and our red cousin provided the answer.

I live in New Canterbury, named after the home of the engineers who designed one of the first transport ships, which is the most advanced of the red planet’s cities. We have a burgeoning population of settlers and Marsborn humans — funnily enough now referred to as Martians. The old timers sometimes look up to the skies and yearn for what once was, but me? Nah. This red rock is all I’ve known. 

Life whilst living on Mars

Life on mars

Life is pretty normal here, my home is stationed within one of the many Hab Complexes that make up New Canterbury. The city is high above what is now sea level on the slopes of Olympus Mons — a purposeful choice thanks to the rising sea levels. Sure, positioning a settlement on the slopes of the solar system’s biggest volcano might not sound sensible, but there hasn’t been a peep from it… yet. 

Our atmosphere is controlled enough that we’re able to breathe freely and walk the surface. In fact, nowadays, Mars looks much like earth. The vegetation and plant life is widespread, as are the oceans. It wasn’t always that way. My father had it hard. He remembers Mars as the red, dusty inhospitable rock that it was for millenia before us.

He worked the nearby silver mine. Tearing through the rusty rock for minerals which in turn we would use for our Martian currency. Thanks to those mines, and people like my father, our colony expanded rapidly. Our very own shining star, the Orbital Surveyor, crisscrossed our sky morning, day and night. It seeks out the most efficient and mineral rich areas to mine and has increased our revenue endlessly. With the help of the satellite, we’ve even expanded our mines deep into Valles Marineris, the monster 4000km long 7km deep canyon. Old timers have shown me photos of what they called “The Grand Canyon” that looks like a small crack compared with this.

At the other end of the spectrum, we looked to the sky for farming. Huge sky farms dominate areas of the atmosphere. Their purpose is simply to produce everything that we need to survive, whilst also maintaining our life-sustaining atmosphere.

What could be next after living on Mars?

We’re all fully aware that our world is fragile. It needs to be perfectly balanced, and constantly. Take, for example, yesterday’s AtomGen Suite shutdown. That caused some headaches, literally, as pressure and oxygen maintenance began to go offline and engineers worked around the clock to stabilize our environment. Thus is life as a Martian. 

What’s next for us? Who knows. Although, I’m beginning to see posters talking of Venus around the Varian V space port. I hear it’s warmer there, naturally. Maybe I’ll sign up to one of the ships there and lead the next terraforming expedition. After all, it’s a great big universe, and I’m here to settle the stars.

Maximum Mars: The Records that Mars Holds

Mars

Against giants such as Jupiter, what records can Mars hold? 

Our closest neighbour has remained a piece of intrigue to those of us on Earth for as long as it has been observed. Since its discovery by curious star-gazers belonging to ancient civilizations, Mars has fascinated our human population.

A relatively small, dusty, red rock, one could be forgiven for thinking that, apart from the striking red colour, this was a somewhat uninteresting and insignificant planet. Certainly not one that could hold record titles against other planets in the solar system. Well, this isn’t the case, there are in fact a number of record titles that Mars holds — titles which it looks to be holding onto for some time to come. 

Record Number 1: The Largest Canyon in the Solar System – Valles Marineris

Credit: JPL

Named for the satellite that discovered this area of Mars, Mariner 9, back in 1972, Valles Marineris is a vast canyon system that creeps and crawls through a region known as the Tharsis area. The canyons run along the surface of the red planet for over 4000km. They are over 200km wide in some places and up to 7km deep. Valles Marineris is, by volume, the largest in the solar system and is only just beaten in length by Earth’s own rift valleys.

If you’re looking for a straight forward comparison, think about the Grand Canyon in the US. The Grand Canyon is a mere 800km long and up to 1.6km deep. Valles Marineris is over 5 times as long and almost 4 times as deep in places! Much like the large canyons of Earth, researchers believe that Valles Marineris was created through extended periods of tectonic activity under the Martian surface.

Record Number 2: The Largest Volcano in the Solar System – Olympus Mons

Mars Volcano
Credit: NASA

Olympus Mons. Even the name sounds grand and imposing. Named after the Latin for Mount Olympus, the mythical seat of the Ancient Greek gods and home to Zeus, god of thunder, king of gods. Once more, sounds grand and imposing. And frankly, that’s rightly so.

Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in our solar system — and not by a little, but by a whole lot. After measurements were taken by the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA), Olympus Mons was measured to be nearly 22km tall. That makes it around 2.5 times larger than Mount Everest when measured from sea level. The volcano takes the titles largest volcano and tallest planetary mountain but just misses out on the tallest mountain in the solar system by a bit of a loophole from Vesta.

You’d be forgiven for wondering what Vesta is. It’s one of the largest asteroids in the asteroid belt and has claim to the largest mountain, pipping Olympus Mons by only hundreds of metres. This mountain, however, was formed following a massive impact and is part of the Rheasilvia crater. Does that count? Well… just.

Record Number 3: The Largest Impact Crater in the Solar System – North Polar Basin

Credit: PSRD Hawaii

This record isn’t going to get such a good write up as technically it might not even be correct. The North Polar Basin has been hypothesised as an impact crater, and if classified as such would have a ratio of between 125-155% of the planet’s surface with a crater diameter of 10,600 × 8,500 km. But, this has not been recognized as fact by the IAU (International Astronomical Union).

Should it not be deemed an impact crater then this record will be passed to the previously mentioned Rheasilvia crater with a diameter of 505 km but a ratio of 90%.

Mars: The Record Breaker

As humankind begins to explore Mars further who knows which records it might gain or take mantle of in the future. Could it hold the largest known water reserves? The most minuscule life forms? Time will tell!

Origins of Science Fiction

How did science fiction begin?

Science Fiction

As long as humans have been capable of abstract thought, we’ve envisaged the future. What’s coming for us? How will we be different? Where might we go? What might we explore? Through this, different people have begun to prophesise, dream, and write about what this future might look like. That includes the different places we, as the human race, will visit, the other lifeforms that we’ll interact with, and how we’ll get to those places. This is where science fiction comes into play.

There’s the realm of science that attempts to hypothesise using facts, data, and historical information. This belongs to actual science and forecasting models. That is not of our concern today. Instead, we’re going to explore those who let their imaginations run wild. Those who might have been inspired by things they’d seen on Earth and imagined what those might be like on other planets. Those who looked at the sky and wondered what might be… then made it up. This is the realm of science fiction.

In order to explore science fiction, we’ll look into those most prolific of writers from recent history including H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson, and James S. A. Corey.

H. G. Wells

H.G. Wells Science Fiction writer

A personal favourite, H. G. Wells was the author of one of the original and greatest works of science fiction ever created, The War of the Worlds. Alongside Jules Verne, he is considered to be the father of science fiction as a genre. Whilst War of the Worlds (written in 1898) is, arguably, his most famous work, he also penned classics such as; The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), and The Invisible Man (1897).

Our favourite H. G. Wells fact? When a version of The War of the Worlds was dramatised for radio in 1938 mass public panic ensued when listeners didn’t realise they were listening to a work of fiction and genuinely thought Earth was being invaded by Martians!

Jules Verne

Jules Verne Science Fiction Writer

Jules Verne is another of the world’s great writers, responsible for works such as Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Whilst the latter isn’t technically a work in science fiction, the other two greats were entirely science fiction even if they were Earthbound. Verne was a master of crafting fictional pieces of technology that inspired generations of science fiction readers. 

Interesting Verne fact: he’s still the second-most translated author of all time. 

Ray Bradbury

Most famous for his work Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury also penned many more pieces of work, including The Martian Chronicles. This science fiction short story fixup depicts the human race fleeing a dying Earth after war and atom bombs have devastated the planet and their colonisation efforts on the red planet. Bradbury goes into great detail regarding cultural clashes between the Martians who live there and the Earthlings who make their new home on already claimed land and takes on poignant topics such as colonisation, terraforming, racism, and sexism.

Kim Stanley Robinson

Having published no fewer than 19 novels that have been translated into at least 24 languages, Robinson is most famous for The Mars Trilogy. We’re particularly fond of Robinson for his works based around the possibility of terraforming other worlds (namely Mars). His trilogy offers viewpoints from that of colonists and gives great insight into what it might be like to live on a terraformed world. Thankfully, he tends to show this in a prosperous utopian light.

James S. A. Corey

Not one, but two authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Using the pen name James S. A. Corey, the pair have written an extensive series called The Expanse. Their works are rapidly expanding, and they are regularly writing for great works of science fiction including the Star Wars universe and have collaborated with George R R Martin on other works. As far as modern day science fiction writers go, we strongly recommend checking out James S. A. Corey.

The Origins of Science Fiction

From humble beginnings in the late 1800s to modern day, science fiction will remain part of our lives forever. As long as there are places to discover, worlds to explore, and technology to create, the human mind will imagine and soar. Here’s to that!

Extra-Terrestrial Options: Is Venus Better to Terraform Than Mars?

Venus and asteroids

Should we look to Venus for our best terraforming opportunity?

Humans have always looked to the red planet when they’ve dreamt of leaving Earth, but could Venus be a better choice to terraform than Mars? The two planets are worlds apart (excuse the pun) and the experiences would be wildly different for the inhabitants, but there are definite advantages to heading to Venus instead. Let’s take a look at how the two planets stack up.

Venus is considerably closer than Mars

It might sound like a bit of a technicality when such huge distances are involved, but Venus is considerably closer to Earth than Mars. We’re talking 14 million kilometers closer which would save between 30% to 50% travel time, making an enormous difference when shuttling supplies and people back and forth. No one wants to spend unnecessary days in transit every time they need to move between planets after all. It would also save a fortune in fuel, so it’s win-win really!

You can get a nice sun tan

This one might be a bit tongue in cheek as you definitely wouldn’t want to bask in a bikini outside in these parts, but Venus’s proximity to the sun would actually be a bonus when it comes to harnessing solar energy. Being able to use solar energy to provide power would be a big advantage, and Venus would offer a much better opportunity for this than Mars would. 

Added to this, the atmosphere on Venus is much more substantial, which would cut down on the amount of harmful radiation that made it to areas inhabited by humans. Mars wouldn’t offer us quite so much protection, and that would be a real concern for long-term habitation.

Humans don’t have to defy gravity on Venus 

Bouncing around in a weightless environment sounds like awesome fun, and it’s certainly entertaining watching footage of astronauts enjoying it on Mars, but would you really want to live like that all the time? Probably not. You want something a bit more down-to-earth, as it were! 

Venus’s gravity is very similar to Earth’s, meaning that the human body is already adjusted to the conditions. This would become important for permanent residents who would need to maintain bone density for health, and is another plus for Venus.

There’s an interesting atmosphere on Venus

And we don’t just mean the experience of hanging out there. The combination of atmospheric gases is interesting in its own right! Venus boasts a complex mix of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid, with some nitrogen thrown in for good measure. The CO2 component is important as it would allow harvesting of oxygen for terraformers, and seeing as all habitation would happen suspended up in that atmosphere, there would be easy access to the gases.

Wait, we would live above the ground?

For all its advantages, Venus is by nature an inhospitable place at ground level. With a surface temperature of over 450 degrees Celsius, we humans would have to do a bit of adaptation before we can walk on the surface! However, a network of suspended dirigibles and air barges would be perfectly suited to making the most of what the planet has to offer, and this shouldn’t stop a terraforming effort on Venus compared to Mars. 

Is Venus is a more tantalizing terraforming candidate than Mars?

In the Venus vs Mars battle, Venus offers some interesting options on many criteria. It’s our nearest neighbor and our sister planet in size. Instead of restricting our terraforming ambitions just to the red planet, we should dream bigger. Venus all the way!

The History of How We Think of Venus

Illustration of Venus

Everything you need to know about the history of Earth’s mysterious neighbour.

From being viewed as two distinct stars, to a planet inhabited by “Venusians”, to being considered the second planet Earth, human perception of Venus has evolved through the ages. 

Named after the Roman goddess of love, likely due to its bright appearance, Venus has sat quietly in the sky while we make our own assumptions as to what it might contain and represent. Only through recent scientific developments have we been able to bring some clarity to what our neighbouring planet is and isn’t.

Ancient civilisations used to believe that Venus was two distinct stars

Due to its proximity to the sun, the illusion created by sunlight fooled the ancient Greeks and Egyptians into believing that Venus was actually two separate stars, visible at sunrise and sunset. These were named the morning and evening star respectively, and became the subject of worship for generations. The disproportionately brighter light given from Venus even earnt itself a mention in the Bible, being compared to Jesus himself. It took a few hundred years before the Greeks realised that Venus was a single object moving within Earth’s orbit, in what must have been a sobering moment for all involved. 

UFO spotters believe that aliens belonged to Venus

In ‘ufology’, the study of extraterrestrial life, it became very convenient to ascribe aliens to Earth’s closest neighbour. Going as far back as the 1950s, alien sightings were claimed to be of “Venusians” who had arrived on planet earth to make contact with humans. While most of the photo and video evidence was investigated and debunked, this hasn’t stopped the fanatical imagination with Venusian life, and conspiracies can still be found in blogs and videos via a quick internet search. 

The idea of Venusians has also made its way into science fiction movies and comics, showing that they are not only a hit with theorists, but with the entertainment industry too.

Some people believe that Venus may be Hell itself

Image of Venus

The mystery of the unknown gives license for the imaginative mind to wonder. None more so than Dr Michael Santini, a former aerospace engineer who wrote a book detailing how Venus is the physical embodiment of hell itself. While the ancient Greeks had beliefs concerning the physical existence of religious places, Dr Santini’s book demonstrates that similar opinions still exist in society today, despite advances in astronomy.

People believe that Venus used to be another planet Earth

These days, due to the wonders of 21st century science, we can be more sure of what Venus is, as well as what it could have been in the past.

It’s boiling hot. 900 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact. It also has 92 times the pressure of Earth, its atmosphere a veritable blanket of sulfuric acid which clouds its visibility. Thanks to this, the planet is difficult to examine and has therefore been able to maintain a degree of mystique.

Scientists believe that Venus used to boast a cooler climate, similar to that on Earth. This has led to speculation that Venus is presenting us with an insight into the fate of our own planet, as climate change takes hold. While conditions on our sister planet would certainly not be able to support life as we know it, there has been evidence that bacteria could be living in the clouds, where the atmosphere is cooler.

When will we know for sure?

As we can see, the beliefs and discoveries we make about Venus are ever changing. From scientific discoveries to new theories based on faith and opinion, the mystery behind Earth’s sister planet means it will always be a playground for the imagination.