Thursday, July 24, 2008

And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth...

I get ideas stuck in my head sometimes.

Sometimes they really get stuck. And the only way to deal with it, is think it through until I realize how patently ridiculous my idea was, or usually is. At the moment, I am considering the terraforming of Venus. There are many reasons Venus has more potential than Mars ever will, but let's save that argument for later.

Really, Venus has all the potential to be a wonderful place to live, even with the puns it would engender. Of course at the moment, it makes hell look comfortable. The atmosphere is carbon dioxide, sulfer dioxide, with a pinch of sulpheric acid. If that is not bad enough, the atmospheric pressure, temperature and pure insane wind speed make mincemeat of the toughest probes sent there.

But the real problem, is that Venus has lost its hydrogen. Venus has no magnetic field of its own, so the solar wind just has its way with Venus, stripping away the lightest gases, namely hydrogen and helium. Hydrogen (and water of course) are the necessary ingredients for any kind of life we know of. Second, any hydrogen introduced would convert the carbon dioxide into elemental carbon or fix into a number of other solid forms. Once a sufficient amount of hydrogen were introduced, we could use Carl Sagan's idea (it was my idea too!) and use extremophile bacteria to fix all that sulferic acid and sulpher dioxide into some form that will not kill us. There are several other problems, but once we have dealt with this first one, those should (mostly) be easier.

Of course, we would need 4×1019 kg of water, which in case your math is rusty, is a whole freakin' lot. We have trouble getting the shuttle up to our 'space station'. How can we get that much water to Venus? This is how...

This is a video gallery of the LASCO telescope on the SOHO solar astronomy satellite. It is used to discover around 100 comets a year, many of them small comets that are called sungrazers. Of course, some of the best videos are watching comets bite the dust when they hit the sun.

Of course, this will increase the surface temperature in the short run, and it will leave craters, and their composition is a wildcard, but they do contain plenty of water and organic compounds.

The only tricky part, is first finding the comets when they are still quite far out, and then finding a way to guide them into an appropriate orbit to hit Venus... and miss Earth. I still like it here. Putting it that way, this sounds almost easy. Well, if not easy, certainly doable, given a bit of time and money.

Just a few pertinent links
Terraforming Venus
Maps of a Terraformed Venus - not the most serious, but what is dreaming if not fun?
Terraformers Society of Canada - I want to delve into this topic more- this site really looks good.
New Mars Society post on Venus
Sungrazer Comets

Finally, now I can stop thinking about it.

For now.

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