Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Terraforming Planets: A Primer

For most SF readers, when the subject of terraforming a solar planet comes up, most people think Mars as the likely choice. I'd like to suggest an alternative; Venus. Venus you say? Are you mad? Bear with me and I'll explain.

Mar's problems are of not having enough. Not enough atmospheric pressure. Not enough mass to hold a decent atmosphere. Not enough solar radiation to keep it warm. All efforts to terraform Mars are about supplying something it doesn't have and to maintain it indefinitely.

Now the alternative:
Venus's problems are all about having too much. Too much atmosphere, too much solar radiation. It is easier to take something away than to add something and make it stay there. Here are my ideas: One of the best ways of thinning an atmosphere I am led to believe is by having a moon, especially a large one. This is not an easy thing to accomplish. All the asteroids combined would not be as big as our moon, so moving one or more large asteroids into an orbit similar to our moon's would do little good, BUT if one or more large asteroids, say Ceres for instance which masses a third of the entire mass of all asteroids combined and is three times the mass of the next largest, were put in a close orbit, similar to say Diemos or Phobos, the tidal effects would roil the atmosphere enough to throw a large percentage of the atmosphere into a high enough orbit that the solar wind will blow it away. After stripping away the excess atmosphere, we need to supply Venus with some water. Cometary impacts are the preferred method to deliver water. After we have water, we need to seed the planet with cyanobacteria to convert that CO2 to O2. Meanwhile we need to do something about all that sunlight. The answer? Solar shades of course! put enough large solar sails into high orbit that a decent percentage of the sunlight falling on the planet is reflected away instead. In a few thousand years, we should have a planet that an unaided human could walk around on....


Blogger Cory said...

Or we could just unleash the Genesis probe and do all of that in a matter of seconds....



June 30, 2005 8:23 AM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

You impatient kids! Always wanting shortcuts! =D

Sedosi, you've been watching too much Star Trek..... you should read more Larry Niven...

June 30, 2005 1:12 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Afer thinking about this some, It may be better to have a somewhat higher atmospheric pressure. Venus does not have a magnetosphere so there is no cosmic ray sheild except for the atmosphere. So the denser the atmosphere, the less cosmic radiation falling on the surface. I know humans can survive at several bar for extended periods, but nitrogen starts becoming toxic and special gas mixtures (using helium instead of nitrogen) are required, but even then, saturation divers can't stay down forever.

July 01, 2005 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Jessie Cuadra said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 19, 2005 1:11 PM  

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