When I was a young’n just starting out expanding my knowledge of the solar system, I always felt that Venus would be the first planet we visited. It was Earth sized and the sci-fi books I read indicated it would support life as well as Earth, only a bit hotter because it was closer to the sun.
But that’s not what Venus is. Venus has a toxic atmosphere and it’s shrouded in clouds of sulfuric acid, which trap heat to the extent where Venus is hotter than Mercury and the surface temperature would melt lead. Not exactly a very human friendly environment.
I wasn’t alone in hoping Venus would be a future colony of Earth. As early as 1962 there have been multiple fly-bys and even probes that landed, although they didn’t last long. And despite the recent excitement over Mars, we are also planning future Venus explorations as early as 2028!
So what does this all mean? Well, I can’t say, but if there’s a way to terraform Venus into something less hostile, perhaps someday we’ll be able to walk the planet surface. In the meantime it appears that Mars would come first, but before that I’d expect to see a moon base and perhaps additional space stations, just like the old sci-fi stories I used to read predicted. Saturn and Jupiter both have moons, and we can’t ignore the asteroid belt, especially if there are valuable resources to mine, again, just like the stories said.
In the meantime, Venus has much to teach us and we have much to learn. There is a 30-year old Giant Dark Cloud that is subject to intense scrutiny right now. We don’t understand this phenomenon and I’m sure many others that don’t exist on Earth, but learning more about what these are and what creates them just might be that first step toward taming this hostile world into a place where humans could survive.
Have you ever thought about our neighboring planets and what it might mean to live or visit there? Please share your comments below!