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Can Terraforming Venus Be The Solution To Population Growth?

It seems to me that Aubrey de Grey is not a big fan of one of the possible solutions to the spiraling population expansion of the human race. That solution is to move at least some of us to other planets. Admittedly, such ideas may look like total science fiction  and up to now have usually been focused on Mars. Thus today there are considerable numbers of serious people interested in terraforming the red planet. University professors, intellectuals and adventurers support the colonization idea because a one-way trip to Mars would be probably half as expensive as a full round-trip mission. Thus, it is reasoned that Martian colonies should be set up there from the beginning. (Before colonizing Mars, however, we ought to fully utilize remote places such as Antarctica, Northern Canada, and Siberia, since those are much easier to begin with.)

Aubrey de Grey may be right in thinking that sending substantial number of humans into space is not a realistic idea for this century. Nevertheless it might not be as hard to start extraterrestrial colonies as some people think, especially if up to now we have been looking in the wrong direction. I propose that instead of Mars, we ought to consider the Earth’s Twin – Venus.

Venus vs Earth Comparison

Venus is known as Earth’s twin for several good reasons: it is the closest of all planets to Earth; it has nearly the same mass and size and has a thick atmosphere. People talk a lot about terraforming Mars but the problem would be that there is nothing to make an atmosphere there out of. Venus, on the other hand, with its carbon dioxide atmosphere, even though it is both huge and hot because of its greenhouse gas effect, does give us something to work with. Thus, in terms of atmosphere forming, at least we don’t have to make something out of nothing.

Venus Surface View (Photo by The Associated Press)

The atmosphere of Venus is, composed chiefly of carbon dioxide, which generates a surface pressure 90 times greater than that on Earth. This massive blanket of carbon dioxide is also responsible for a runaway greenhouse effect that heats the planet’s surface to an average temperature of 467°C (872°F) – hot enough to melt lead. This would be a bit uncomfortable for even the most genetically enhanced humans (or cyborgs) to deal with, at least for the foreseeable future. However, some Earth organisms, known as hyperthermophiles, are able to deal with similarly incredible pressures and temperatures since they are able to live in temperatures above 80°C (176°F). The hardiest hyperthermophiles yet discovered live on the superheated walls of deep-sea hydrothermal vents, requiring temperatures of at least 90°C for survival. None have been found yet that can live in the temperatures and pressures similar to those on the surface of Venus but they probably do exist on Earth (or you could say ‘in’ Earth, well below the surface) and, at least theoretically, have not been discovered yet.

So if we did have creatures that could survive at the temperature of Venus what good are they? There is nothing to eat on Venus so they could not be used to convert the CO2 atmosphere to solid carbon and oxygen gas but would starve to death? Well that’s not really true because there are lots of sulfur eating bacteria that gorge on sulfur like Cookie Monsters. Sulfuric acid is available in vast quantities in the atmosphere and they can eat the sulfur, breathe in the carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen.

Comets as a source of water

Then we come to the next and perhaps the biggest problem that we would need a solution for. There is no water on Venus to speak off. I have pointed out how microbes can do all of the things that you need to do to. However all living things require water to survive and there is virtually no water on Venus. All the hydrogen from the formation of the planet has escaped into space and the only viable source would be redirecting comets to land on Venus every time they enter the solar system. This is certainly possible if the highly elliptical orbits of comets are modified when they are about as far away from the Sun as Neptune, but will take quite a few decades before it becomes practical and shows significant results.


Well, as Aubrey de Gray likes to point out when explaining Regenerative Medicine — humans (and all living things) are highly complex machines. With ultra advanced nanotechnology that will come a decade or two after the singularity, probably before 2050 it will be entirely possible to create microbe-like self-replicating robots that will be able to go to Venus, eat the sulfuric acid, breathe in the carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen and carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide that the nanobots will also be breathing out will eventually break down into CO2 again and can just be inhaled once more by these self-replicating artificial life forms. Thus we should have an Oxygen/Nitrogen Atmosphere in a couple of decades that is probably about 60 Earth atmospheres in pressure, but without any serious greenhouse problems. This would still be a very uncomfortable (though not fatal) atmosphere for a normal human. It will also be very hot and perhaps highly radio-active because Venus has no significant magnetic field with which to deflect the rays from the occasional solar eruptions as the Earth does. However, if as Ray Kurzweil often points out, humans will be able to transcend biology and merge with machines then it might be eventually possible for a human to walk around without any protective space suit (or even naked) on the surface of the Moon (or Venus, or Mars) if he or she is designed with a “heavy duty body.”

So there you have it, if you can put all or some of these theoretically possible solutions together into one coherent space program, then by the end of the 21st century humankind can have a second Earth to move to and provide us with a second home thereby alleviating population growth on Earth. At first, water for the Venus colonies would have to be shipped from Earth or the Moon, and then eventually – made from comets. By then, human resource efficiency will be extremely good since by necessity it will be vital for survival on Earth. Thus a closed-loop fully recycling habitat would not be that hard to create.

Terraforming a planet

Life on Venus may have its funny peculiarities such as a day that is 116.75 Earth days long or almost exactly 1401 hours. Since 1400 or 1200 are nice round numbers the Venusian hour might be 2.57 or 3 seconds longer then an Earth hour. There may not be a cloud in the sky for a long time and a pronounced heat haze and mirages may be the norm. Flammable materials on Earth will likely become explosive in Venus’ thick oxygen atmosphere.There might be a risk of spontaneous human combustion. The Sun will look bigger. There will be no moon at night ever though many stars with very pronounced twinkling…

Apart from those and other oddities Venus is probably going to be a lovely place to live in. Wonderful mountains and valleys to travel around as a tourist and more solar power then you could ever use to charge every single device from electric cars and high speed trains to super efficient airliners and even artificial planetary or local magnetic fields. In my view, the best way to make terraforming Venus a reality would be through a multinational corporation set up by most or all of the Earth nations. The biggest problem that the project needs to overcome, both for the self replicating nanobots and later the colonists, would be water shortage. But I believe that this is not an insurmountable problem. In all likelihood, there will be other problems that I have not thought of or mentioned here so feel free to contribute to this idea.

So, what do you think? Can terraforming Venus be the solution to population growth on Earth?

About the Author:

Kieran Griffith is an adviser to the SENS Foundation for Advancing Rejuvenation Biotechnologies on space colonization. He has degrees in Space Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the International Space University and is interested in a career in Commercial Spaceflight.

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  • Khannea Suntzu

    draw up a sun shield of spinning foil particles around most of the albedo of Venus. Now calculate how fast a body like venus radiates away heat and let it cool off. If the sunshield reflects enough solar energy my expectation is that we’ll see CO2 snow out of the atmosphere in less than a decade. However that won’t cool down the surface. Venus will be explosively and viscously volcanic for centuries. Much like Io in the latter case. I think we need a bit more trickery than just nanoids here.

  • Thomas Fledrich

    Well I believe sending out large numbers of humans into permanent settlements will not only become possible in the course of this century, but it will be essential for several reasons.Maybe you’ve heard the saying, if you manage to get into Earth orbit, you’re halfway to anywhere in the solar system. Actually it’s even more than half-way, let me explain by numbers:The delta v (the speed change a vehicle must obtain relative to Earth surface ) required to reach a low Earh orbit (LEO) is about 9.5 km/s. This means a chemical rocket, as used today, needs to consist to about 90% of propellant and must be designed to the very extreme limit of what’s technically possible to do at all. Even then, most of the remaining 10% of mass is just the supporting structure and engines, leaving only about 2% of the launch mass to be payload. The engines at the beginning of flight need to be strong enough to push all this mass up overcoming Earth’s gravity, i. e. accellerate at >1g.Just 3.5 km/s more and one can go into an orbit around the Moon, not much more than this to go to Mars or visit valuable asteroids. These 3.5 km/s don’t need to be achieved with the same huge acceleration as the first 9.5 km/s, so one can use smaller and more effective propulsion systems (electric, solar thermal, sails, etc.).There is hardly any delta v required to travel between groups of asteroids, and only about 2km/s to get into an orbit around the Moon, which allows for much more effective designs. Remember the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module), that was used to travel from a Lunar orbit to the surface and back, and compare the ratio of useful carrying capacity (astronauts, Moon rocks, rovers etc.) of that vehicle to the ratio of the huge Saturn V that was required just to get all that into Earth orbit.So what we need to do is to establish an initial, self sufficient settlement in one of these locations without the annoying gravity field of a big planet like Earth, then it will be much easier (cheaper) to grow out from there using locally available material.On these grounds (among others), I consider Venus to be one of the worst possibilities for initial settlement. Venus’s gravity is almost as bad as the Earth’s so we wouldn’t be able to start an exponential wave of space settlement by focusing on that planet.But why do I think getting off the Earth will become much more affordable for people without big pockets? The current status quo that space launch businesses need big corporations or governments with huge investments to function is challenged on multiple fronts as I write this. SpaceX is one of the best examples, PayPal founder Elon Musk having developed and successfully flown an orbital rocket using about 100 Million $ of his own money. Now you might think that’s very expensive, but it’s actually not the cost of one vehicle but of total development for everything from scratch (new engines, structure, guidance and control systems etc.). It’s actually just a fraction of the money involved in the creation of a new airliner or even just a car. A bridge spanning across a mid sized river costs that much.
    This results in a still expensive conventional (albeit more environmentally friendly) chemical rocket system, but other designs in development from various groups look at more revolutionary concepts (air/sea launch, scramjets, beamed propulsion) that will eventually, within the next few decades, push down the cost/mass to LEO to a fraction of what it is today. Today it costs about 30 Mio. $ to launch someone into orbit. If we can get this number down to say 300,000$, and this money not for a round-trip, but a one way one to a space habitat bootstrapped at the asteroids, it will be affordable for average people if they sell all their Earth based assets (mainly their houses and cars), that they won’t need anymore anyway.Or to put it into a less money focused example, today it costs maybe 1000 work years to get someone into orbit, we need to get that number down to 10 (also think of improved productivity by automation in this regard).

  • Kieran Griffith

    Why would you want to start an exponential wave of interplanetary settlements are you talking about colonizing every single planet, dwarf planet and asteroid in the Solar System like island hopping? Space Engineering is extremely expensive, when you go to Venus you can stay there and not have to hop on to colonize Mercury in a few years. Venus is the only other planet in the Solar system that can be comfortably terraformed this century, People will be emigrating from Earth to the rest of the solar system, not from Venus to the rest of the solar system, The Venus gravity well is not a factor. Mars might become habitable but only to ultra-robust humans which are 99% synthetic life forms. On Venus the colonists can at least be 99% biological with at most blood conditioning to better radiate heat from the body and a slightly higher rate of the use of regenerative medicine. The ideas of building cities in the vacuum of space or even cities on the Moon or Asteroids, are thousands of times more expensive relatively then terraforming a planet comfortable enough for a biological humans to live on. Answer me this one question, If Venus was colonized where would Venusian people have to move to, and when would they have to move there? Venus would not become overpopulated for many decades and by then humans would have the option of moving as far away as nearby stars.

  • Kieran Griffith

    Venus actually has had almost no geological activity for 300-500 million years and there are over 150 medium sized craters on the surface of Venus, a lot more then Earth, so there has not been much volcanic processes at all probably. Venus is going to remain less active then the Earth for the next few million years until there is some other major resurfacing event. I am not a geologist however, are you saying that when the surface of the planet Venus cools then the surface will start to become volcanic, how is this so? Let the self replicating, carbon dioxide breathing nanobots infect the planet like rabbits infecting Australia but change the environment for the better without having to do anything but monitor the situation. Thanks for your contribution, good to see intelligent minds give attention to your ideas.

  • Thomas Fledrich

    Well I would just focus on the best locations for the beginning, then see how that develops. Space Engineering is only expensive because launch prices are so high at the moment. It doesn’t take much high tech to make airtight rooms if mass is not an issue (as it wouldn’t be if the material was mined from nearby asteroids). Rotate them and you also have artificial gravity, as much or little as you like.

    But I guess we are just talking about different parts of the same issue. Of course terraforming Venus is a good idea in itself, but we will need some infrastructure in the outer solar system for diverting those comets, too.

    Thanks for your response and trust, I hope technology will get to the point fast enough where we will all be able to work on these issues for real. That will be exciting times and likely the most positive what intelligent life from this little blue planet will have ever accomplished by cooperating with no artificial borders separating us for the first time.

  • guest

    Well, I like the idea but since the atmosphere is thicker and the sun will look bigger, a second greenhouse effect can happen in hundreds of thousands of years or millions. See, removing most of the atmosphere and putting solar shades can prevent Venus from suffering a second greenhouse effect. We can use a kuiper object or planet Ceres for a Venusian moon.

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  • Zarniwoop Vann Harl

    There may not be much water on Venus, but there’s plenty of hydrogen and oxygen. You can make water out of the sulfuric, hydrochloric, and hydrofluoric acids and some of the carbon dioxide.

  • Scott Lord

    It is the logical step for our civilisation… faced with the fact that putting ‘all your eggs into one basket’ isn’t a good idea!

    It’s a well established idea now that an Asteroid Impact could wipe us out. Remote yes, but still a statistical possibility.

    So, it is imperative that to ensure better odds we have to be in two places rather than one!

    And I totally agree that Venus is the best solution. It has so much going for it that the once ridiculous problems it posed when I was a child are already being seen as not insurmountable. Namely, Nanotechnology.

    Turning Venus habitable is the best action our race could (and should) take.

    It is interesting to see that the idea is taking root all over the place. I came to this conclusion independently, and I am sure over the next few decades it will become more and more viable.

    Until mankind has solved the ultimate riddle – namely what exactly sentient intelligence IS, and how it is reproduced artificially, then we have to ensure our own survival in our present form. 

    I imagine it is a race between these two technologies. AI vs Terraforming. Both seem equally solvable in the next few hundred years…

  • “Can Terraforming Venus Be The Solution To Population Growth?”

    Nope. Takes too much energy to get a human from one planet to another.

  • Hannah Fontana

    >that will come a decade or two after the singularity

    Why bother with terraforming when it would be so much easier to upload your brain?

  • Venus can be cooled via reflective dust placed in orbit around it coupled with nuclear winters. Reflective dust does not have to be thick or engulf  the entire planet. All it needs is a band  around the portion of the planet with the most exposure to the sun. The affects of man made winters coupled with orbiting reflective dust could cool the planet down to habitable temperatures within 100 years, then seeding the planets oceans can commence, oceans that would form from the cooling of the Venetian atmosphere. 

  • Dilliar6

    you can kill two bird with one stone so to speak if you take the excess of venus and dump it on mars
    with venus’s rapid heating effect mars will heat up to earth temps in 2 years and venus will cool of also occording to exodus earth and many other shows venus does consist of alot of water vapor so if cooled it couls rain an ocean. hard part would be to filter out the acid but it is plossible. then you could plant plants like lichen and moss which would have a population explsion because of high co2 (simular to earth carboniferous period) which could oxgenate the planet in a short period of time. Also plankton
    photo and zoo could florish espeially on venus with more light.Pretty soon you could introduce animals to both planets and have two new worlds rather than one and leave the human body how God intened

  • Jonny

    I think the SRS approach is best.  It is safest, cheapest, and theoretically scales as necessary.  It is also imperative to equip SRS machines with advanced learning capabilities particularly in geochemistry.  SRS machines could devise optimal terraforming schemes based on discovered Venusian processes.

    I wonder if bombarding Venus with a volatile-rich dwarf planet could affect tectonic activity.  My thinking says it won’t because I think tectonic activity is fundamentally dependent upon internal radioactivity of the planet and since there is no volcanism or tectonic activity on Venus anymore it is reasonable to suggest that the Venusian core is largely depleted and will never resume prior volcanic activity.  Consequently, the crust is probably much thicker than Earth’s and its Mohorovicic discontinuity deeper and less defined.  There could be a brief period of small-scale volcanism but it would quickly subside.  What am I missing?

    Furthermore, developing a natural magnetic field by manipulating convective currents in the Venusian core is probably impossible without introducing significant amounts of radioactive material into it (also impossible).  I don’t think planet rotation velocity is a strong factor in a naturally occurring magnetic field either.  Rotational stability yes.

  • Well since we are talking about tech way ahead of us…..  Id like to see on the protoplanets/ another body put in orbit about Venus. The would create tidal forces and kick start geological activity. Same thing would be good for Mars. On earth geological activity plays an important role in life and recycling minerals. I like the idea of terraforming venus too….. Low gravity of Mars would be fun but…

  • oh and to add …. creating those tidal forces might be able to kick start a dynamo as well for a good ‘ol fashion magnetosphere. 

  • Zap134

    For this price of moving people to space you can take care of them here, let fewer humans populated the new planet,& use birth control. Your could cheaply send additional genetic material, for implantation, to improve genetic diversity.
    I think the idea of catching & controlling chaotic asteroids&comets then impacting them into Venus offers several advantages. You are cleaning the solar system of possibly dangerous collisions, can direct the impacts to spin Venus, add water, and even slow Venus’ orbit, boosting it in a slightly higher orbit. Years of blocking it’s light, then bio-therapy will also be necessary.

  • calvin

    Yes, it’s not the science, it’s the economics of this
    that are challenged. Let’s do some rough numbers.

    What do we mean by alleviating population pressure?
    Presumably we mean moving a significant number of people off-world. What would
    be significant? Well, considering some think the population of earth will level
    off at about 9 billion about the turn of the century then I would think that at
    least 10%, or very roughly 1 billion people (to make the maths easy), would be
    required to move to have any real impact. A few million just wouldn’t make a
    dent. Now, people on average weigh, let’s say, 60kg. That means we have to lift
    a total weight of 1,000,000,000 * 60 = 6 * 10^10 kg into orbit. According to
    NASA, a conservative estimate of the current cost of lifting 1 kg into orbit is
    about $4,000. Way too expensive. Let’s say we build a space elevator instead. It
    has been estimated (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator_economics)
    that a space elevator could bring the cost down to a mere $220 per kg. So the
    total cost of lifting a billion people into orbit is $220 * 6 * 10^10 = $13.2
    trillion. This is the entire annual GDP of the United States – a humungous
    amount of money. And this is just to get the people into orbit. We would also
    have to lift enough food and water for them to consume on their journey there,
    plus any equipment they would need, plus the spaceships (or at least the
    materials to build them) to transport all of them and all their food and
    equipment. We could be looking at tens or more likely hundreds of trillions of
    dollars. Could this ever be feasible?

  • Talah Rama

    Maybe we can use Mercury or Europa as moons to trigger the activity of the nucleus and mantle.

  • Blackwaterswan

    i dont know if it would work for your water problem, but why not use fuel cells.  all you would need is hydrogen and oxygen and out comes water, perfect and pure. we already have the technology to do it all it needs is a little refining is all.

  • nyarlath

    I think it would work once you get past the challenge of transporting people to Venus.  Give every one of them a cheap strap on bag filled with trash. Tell them it is a parachute and kick them out the hatch. As they fry in the 400 C acid atmosphere they will cool the atmosphere a few microdegrees.  After a few thousands of years our trash and population problem will be solved and Venus will be cool enough and have enough water to allow for microbes to survive in the upper atmosphere.  

  • Csk

    We don’t need an asteroid. Just build and put a dense metallic object in low
    Venus object, at very high speed to induce its gravity. Basicly, gravity is velocity times mass.

  • Csk

    I think that we shouldn’t focus on terraforming anything, but rather build lots of huge spaceships that can travel in space indefinately, and could have a couple of thousands of crew each, and than go all over the universe. Not only would that be easier and cheaper, but ensure the survival of humanity as a species indefinately (or as long as the universe will exist, and then move to other dimensions).

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  • I have an idea… Use Novacem cement that eats carbon dioxide then find a way to tow Pluto into the system to smack into Venus once the planet is cooled using artificial atmospheric reflection methods to cool it due to the heat and absence of a strong magnetosphere. http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/sep2010/gb2010091_549481.htm

  • Moha

    How would you move Europa from its orbit around Jupiter all the way down to Venus orbit and set it right without causing a gigantic cataclysm ? this would take some serious knowledge

  • AJ @ Nasa Cape Canaveral

    Actually there is some water remaining on Venus, according to an article I read on NASA’s JPL site, there is enough in the atmosphere to cover the planets lower plain areas in an ocean a few centimeters deep. (Granted that’s no earth ocean, but a pool of reflecting water that can harbor life is a start)

    Also there is a theory for terraforming Venus by the reintroduction of hydrogen which will mix with other elements at the high temperatures on Venus to create water very rapidly.

    The problem on Venus is not a lack of water really, but a lack of Hydrogen.

  • Michelle

    all i can say is….you’re nuts. even IF we could turn the atmosphere breathable, there is NO way possible humans can withstand 800+ degree temps. hot enough to melt metal, therefore way too hot for humans. and that’s an understatement. and it’s virtually impossible to cool a planet that hot down to livable temps. yeah. this article is very far fetched and sci-fi. you should.come back to reality. not only that, from what I’ve read here and there, people are worried about an asteroid or comet hitting earth and obliterating it. newsflash: an asteriod can hit ANY planet. You’re not lowering your risks by moving the population to a different planet.

  • Steve Tomichek

    Sounds like an interesting mind game. Maybe the start of a syfy novel. Here are some quick thoughts:
    Let’s focus on delivering a comet to Venus for a moment. There is currently the political will to develop a method to divert asteroids from earth. I’m confident that once we have that technology, instead of diverting asteroids, we’ll place them in a parking orbit. From there, the next step (for our asteroids anyway) is asteroid mining, then a space elevator. Now that we can divert asteroids, it seems like a small step to divert comets to Mars and Venus. And while we’re hitting Venus with a comet, why not make it a big comet with a high velocity and the best angle of attack and knock some of that atmosphere off. More comets, more water and we keep knocking off the excess atmosphere.
    How about that magnetic field problem. We’re starting with a planet without any oceans, Sounds like the ideal time to build a conductor around the equator. With every solar panel you add to the conductor you get more current and more magnetic field. For the physics majors out there, how big a conductor do we need and how much current do I need to generate to equal earth’s magnetic field. How about if I had several conductors at various latitudes.
    Yes it sounds expensive. But consider the amount of real estate you get for your money.

  • dude

    one way they could likely take some of the density out of the atmosphere might be to ship it to mars, therefore, you could, once you have advanced(near lightspeed) ships, one could pack as much of the atmosphere down, and ship it to mars adding to its atmosphere and taking density from venus, which would help change both to be more like Earth. The problem with venus, though, would be cooling it down. I see titan or Mars being much easier areas to terraform. Taking to the oceans would be another way to solve overpopulation on the land, but eventually, yes, we would need another planet. Once near light-speed ships become available (if ever) i think the best solution would be setting up small colonies on various planets throughout various star systems.

  • dude


  • dude

    putting ur brain into a computer seems stupid. i would hate it. i wanna live not be an AI

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  • Person

    Get rid of everyone…..it was our fault for createing our earthly problems People are causeing it..so why not just kill everyone and almost wipe out 1/4 of earths population i just dont care anymore

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  • robert bernal

    The energy and social requirements for populating other planets are FAR more than what is required to permit even ten times the population here on earth.
    Consider the following alternative:
    Giant 3-d printers which build massive cities out of carbon graphene or similar material with all infrastructure including vertical pathways to hundreds (if not thousands) of levels built in.
    Machine automation which mass produce (the best type of) solar collection and (the best type of) batteries, therefore, more eco friendly even as population slowly grows. Efficiency allows (close to) present day energy consumption standards for all and their children which allows them a BETTER standard.
    Remember, if the rest of world was to follow our old fashioned ways of getting around (in the U.S.) fully FIVE times global primary energy would need to be found! Yet solar can do that for over 10 billion!

    Let robotics search for and mine the near earth asteroids. Perhaps we won’t have to mine our own planet for required elements such as lithium, gallium, etc, even though it should be much easier to do so (and without eco damage) by use of automated machinery (there is A LOT of space for mining under the biosphere and in the oceans).
    Until we come up with the advanced nuclear (such as LFTR) required to replace covering 1 or 2% of the planet with solar, we will not have enough energy to “export” even just 1% of a human population out into space cities. Dealing with the gravity wells of other planets would be even more “energy” challenging.

  • trebor

    Get Hydrogen from Jupiter or saturn or uranus and drop it on to venus CO2+ O2 = H2O and C, solve moon problem by capturing an asteroid and putting it into an obit, Introduce stromatalites, and alge, to get venus up to suffient rotational energy build a space elvator at poles (one on each and have them with nulear engies in the same direction causing the engies to spin around venus but also venus to spin around the engies their by increasin it’s speed.

  • NiklasL

    What if venus got a core more simular earth. Venus core is solid and therefor not generating much magnatic field. If, it did generate like earths more fluid core there would be better protection for the atmosphere letting lighter gases such as oxygen to stay in the atmosphere but also cool down the planet. The problem with huge sun blocking systems is that sunstorms will still ruin the atmosphere enough that oxygen can´t stay, instead just flying outer space. Creating oxygen could be easy, maybe just machines that generate oxygen from CO2 or something idk, maybe even creating water from material on venus. Just, if we could generate a strong//(maybe stronger than earths) magnetic field we could start settle in just a few decades!!

  • John

    Yeah, sorry but…Mars would be much easier than Venus. You mention it yourself in your blog: Venus’s atmosphere itself makes it literally impossible for the human species to live long-term there w/o severe repercussions to the human body. Then there’s the temperature. At least w/ Mars the lack of an atmosphere can be counteracted w/ a sort of large-scale LSS atmosphere generator, and it’d be easier to warm a surface up than cool it down.

    Also, Venus suffers attacks from solar wind and radiation magnitudes worst than Earth…granted, so does Mars, but its distance from the Sun slightly counteracts that. Basically, Venus is like a string of bad luck all in one pot that makes it one of the last choices for terraforming (which is sad, ‘cuz otherwise it’s a very interesting planet).

  • That depends on what assumptions you make. For example, prolonged exposure to low-gravity environments is known to cause all sorts of health problems for human beings, including loss of bone density, loss of muscle mass, and a compromised immune system. Where is all that extra mass going to come from? Or should we pretend this isn’t a major problem?

    How hard it is to do ANYTHING is entirely relative to the level of technological capability one possesses. Based on current technology, yes, it would be harder to terraform Venus. But will this be the case 150 years from now? Will it be the case even 75 years from now? We are already at or past the “knee” of the exponential curve that represents progress in several areas of technology, such as classical computation, genetic sequencing and biotech; and others aren’t far behind (nanotechnology, quantum computation). What is currently an intractable engineering challenge will one day be well within the realm of the possible. I’d give it no more than 100 years.

    Bottom line: Venus is the best candidate for terraforming within our solar system.

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  • How about we build some big freezers like made for cold storage solutions,
    and make 1 ton Ice blocs and catapult them into the ocean there were the warm
    currents meet the poles then little by little cooling the ocean down,

    not sure what Plankton grows on, but Ocean Plankton and Plant is the only way
    to beat CO2, at least this way we could suffocate in comfort? If we keep burning
    up our O2 …..

  • Firstly, it is possible to lower the athmosphere’s temperature; by increasing albedo, taking away greenhouse gases and such. Secondly, chances of an asteroid hitting the planet stay the same indeed if we move to another planet. But the other planet will still have humans on it, and that is what the people above are trying to say. Chances of human population being wiped out are smaller because there is always another planet left 🙂

  • Hannah Fontana

    How do you know you aren’t an AI?

  • Sarah Condry

    I don’t think explosions would be a problem. Venus has very little molecular oxygen. The atmosphere is actually made up of mostly carbon dioxide. You should check out the aerostat “xities” that are being discussed by some of the leading NASA folks!
    I wish we could compress the atmosphere of Venus, transport it to Mars, and double our terraforming output!

  • munkyBeatz

    So what was the point of this article? Just from your article alone, you’re basically saying it’s improbable to colonize Venus unless we’re cyborgs.

    As far as the population on earth, unless we do find some way to colonize another planet soon, the population is definitely going take a few drastic drops if history is any indicator. Dwindling resources leads to famine, then to war, finally ending up with fewer people.

    It’s unfortunate, but if it wasn’t for all the wars and atrocities committed over the centuries we’d already be at the 9billion mark most likely.

  • John Roesch

    Terra forming Venus is an interesting idea but is very problematic and we don’t have the technology yet or the infrastructure in space to do this economically. Also we don’t have a “spiraling population problem” this is complete nonsense. The population replacement rate is well below the required 2.1 children per woman for a stable population every where except Africa! Global population will peak by mid century and decline rapidly due to an aging population. Our problem is the exact opposite, a with a rapidly aging population the global economy will shrink rapidly and may even collapse. A market is people who have money and are willing to spend it on products and services. As people age they spend less since they have fewer needs. As the population ages, the population shrinks due to increased mortality as people die from old age and illness. The market shrinks and the economy contracts!

  • Guest

    “Thus we should have an Oxygen/Nitrogen Atmosphere in a couple of decades that is probably about 60 Earth atmospheres in pressure…”

    Where are you getting the nitrogen from?

  • Amazing article, well done!

  • It appears that there is ice on Mercury in spite of the fact that it is the closest planet to the sun!

  • Have you seen Skylon being developed by reaction engines in the UK? The cost of getting into orbit will plummet when this becomes a reality!

  • Yes, but it is easier to launch vehicles and other packages from the reduced gravity environment of the moon, than to construct them in the weightlessness of space. There are huge lava tubes on the moon which could be used as manufacturing facilities. In addition, colonising the moon will teach us how to live independently of Earth before we decide to colonise further afield. The moon after all is merely four days away!

    I realise though that the moon due to its vastly reduced gravity, is not all that terraformable!

  • That was an outstanding article!

    I have one question though, I love the snow, could we terraform Venus to such an extent that Snow would be present at the poles?

  • While I couldn’t see a space lift working on Earth, I could certainly see it working in the much reduced gravity environment of Mars!

    Anyway, as technology progresses, the cost of getting people into orbit will reduce dramatically. Have you seen Skylon being developed by reaction engines in the UK?

    There are a huge quantity of various elements to make the colonisation of Mars a viable option when you consider that the prevalance of Duterium there is five times that of Earth and the cost of one kilogram of the stuff currently stands at $10,000 per kilogram!

    So yes, the colonisation of various celestial bodies is feasible!

  • A worm hole between Mars and Venus would be necessary to increase the pressure in the Martian atmosphere while simultaneously reducing the atmospheric pressure on Venus. Do you have any ideas as to how a worm hole between Mars and Venus could be generated?

  • I have a special tree out the back!

  • Fay Patterson

    Why terraform Venus? 50km above the surface, the temp and pressure is about the same as Earth’s. Also, the buoyancy of breathable air cf the thick C02 atmosphere is about 2/3 that of helium in our atmosphere. So if you built a city in a bubble, it would pretty much float like a balloon. Yes, I have written a book and am trying to get Vulcan’s Attic published. 🙂

  • Adam Bourke

    One problem, if we do colonize is the abbundance of volcanoes, people would have to deal with the constant threat of being cooked alive or buried by them

  • Thomas Yohannes

    is bad idea to choose Venus? it will get destroy.3 inner planet will be destroyed in 1.5b years time. mars is the safest from all. it might be small but it will be hot as earth in 1.5b years time because the sun will be giant and also water and oxygen. ANY MORE far and its all be water & gas with no where to land.

  • RT10

    Never work. Venus is to hot and its much easier to warm a planet than heat it. Venus also spins to slowly, Venus day length is 116 days, you’d have to speed it up and there’s no good way to do that. Venus’s atmosphere is much to thick, so not only would you have to clean it up but you’d have to find a way to ditch a huge chunk of it and once you’d freeze out a huge chunk of it, it would just make Venus all the heavier. As it is the atmosphere of venus already is more than the entire asteroid belt (see speeding up Venus) in mass so crashing asteroids into Venus to get it so speed up won’t work.. So you need to spin it up to around a 24 hour day and get rid of the extra weight. Mars is already stable at -60 C which means that the same amount of energy gets there as leaves there and it already has the right day length.

  • kash11

    The ice forms on the side of the planet that isn’t facing the sun, the rotation of the planet is so slow that by the time one side faces the sun the surface temp keeps dropping until sunlight starts to shine on it.

  • Lithium2006

    Okay, how about you be first in line then.

  • Lithium2006

    I know this article is old and I’m late in the game but as interesting as this topic is, terraforming anything seems far fetched by today’s technology and science. Before we change any planet, we would have to try it here on earth first, for example turn the deserts into tropical rain forests.

  • Dan

    I agree. By the time we got Venus even remotely habitable we would have overpopulated, polluted, deforested, and bombed ourselves into extinction. You have to clean up your room before you can go out and play.

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  • Samcrut

    Not seeing why a 24 hour day is relevant.

  • JAC

    That penultimate sentence is key:
    breakthrough propulsion must be the top priority.
    That alone would resolve many of the practical problems you point out.
    Moreover, it would open travel to other candidate colony locations.
    Fascinating piece, by the way!

  • Larry Freeman Phats

    if we could place hydrogen around a planet borrowed from jupiter it could jumpstart the process of creating a breathable atmosphere and seas… ill explain everyone knows that when new solar systems are being created they start out as giant hydrogen clouds called nebula that condense to form stars and planets .. some planets develop hydrogen surrounding the planet which turns into braethable atmosphere over time through natural processes… hydrogen combines with oxygen to make water and nitrogen is the result of lightning strikes so on and so on ….the earth kept its hydrogen bubble because the gravitational effects are just right to hold it in place our moon helps…. so to terra form mars we would need hydrogen and also make mars moon bigger… for venus we would need less hudrogen to cool the planet and jump start the process of making water.. venus is the better candidate for emidate habitibality because it all ready has a jumpstart on a atmosphere … my question is how much hydrogen would be needed for either plannet to make it breathable and have seas ? and how do we get the hydrogen from jupiter to venus and mars? i have some ideas …. lets hear yours.. and how much would such space missions cost?

  • Dan

    “Can Terraforming Venus Be The Solution To Population Growth?”

    Nope. It would be vastly more cost effective to pass out birth control devices, restrict family size to 1 child, and legalize abortion. Oh, and switch to green technologies that do not cause further harm to the Earth’s biosphere. Duh!

  • Dan

    “Can Terraforming Venus Be The Solution To Population Growth?”

    Nope. It would be vastly more cost effective to pass out birth control devices, restrict family size to 1 child, and legalize abortion. Oh, and switch to green technologies that do not cause further harm to the Earth’s biosphere. Duh!

  • Dan

    From the nite side of the planet of course.

  • Dan

    From the nite side of the planet of course.

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  • Flip3206

    That would also solve the problem of funding Social Security. As my generation approaches retirement age, just load us on to rockets and aim us at Venus. 🙂

  • Flip3206

    That would also solve the problem of funding Social Security. As my generation approaches retirement age, just load us on to rockets and aim us at Venus. 🙂

  • Should We Colonize Venus Instead of Mars? | Space Time | PBS Digital Studios

  • Should We Colonize Venus Instead of Mars? | Space Time | PBS Digital Studios

  • Louise Afazaia

    Move Venus using giant centennial-lifetime thrusters to a lagrange orbit with Earth, and likewise move the moon of Ganymede to an orbit around Venus, and transfer the water from Ganymede to Venus. Wow! Bazinga!

  • ilduderino

    Asteroid impact is actually a 100% probability and not remote at all…sure it might be another 50 million years, but it’s going to happen.

  • Jonathan Mazzini

    hiderogenio de Júpiter.

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