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


[MUSIC PLAYING] There’s a lot of talk about
sending humans to Mars. But no one talks about Venus. Why not? And could Venus actually
be the better option for a human colony? [MUSIC PLAYING] Going to Mars has
been a fixture in our collective
cultural consciousness for a very long time. It’s inspired more sci-fi movies
and stories than I can count, a ride at Disney World, and a
Twitter following for the Mars Rover that’s almost
two million strong. Meanwhile, Venus
has inspired– what? Two Ray Bradbury
stories, a plant that eats flies, and a razor? Basically, Venus has the
worst public relations team in the solar system. And that hurts
our sister planet, not just in culture and
media but in space policy. Presidents Bush and Obama
and the Chinese government have all outlined goals for
manned missions to Mars. The Dutch nonprofit
group Mars One even held in
international competition to find volunteers for a one-way
mission to the Martian surface. But Venus? No manned mission love– at all. Which is odd since
in most respects, Venus is actually an
easier and less costly colonization target
than Mars is. For starters, Venus
is closer to Earth. That’s why we sent probes to
Venus long before we sent them to Mars and why we
sent more of them. Depending on the launch
window, the round trip can be 30% to 50% shorter,
which is a major factor for manned missions. Shorter trips means less
weightlessness and radiation, less food and water
to carry, and thus less fuel and lower cost. This would also be
a huge advantage in moving the people and
equipment necessary to actually colonize another world,
because bear in mind, there’s no Craigslist in space. If we ever start a colony,
we’ll need to bring along almost everything. And it’s not just
the shorter trip. The planet itself has some
significant advantages over Mars. It’s closer to the sun,
which means about four times more available solar power
then you have on Mars. It also has a thick atmosphere,
unlike that wispy layer on Mars. That means better protection
from space radiation and meteorites for our
enterprising colonizers and their future cities. It also means more
available carbon dioxide from which, in principle,
you might extract oxygen. But the real kicker is gravity. Venus has about 0.9 Earth
g’s– pretty close– while Mars has less than 0.4. And one thing we do know is
that prolonged low gravity is bad for humans. How bad? In Earth orbit,
astronauts lose bone mass at about 10 times
the rate of someone with advanced osteoporosis. Now no one knows exactly
how bad Martian gravity would be for humans,
but it’s definitely not going to be good. On Venus, that’s far
less of a concern. And remember, we’re talking
about long-term colonization, not just visits. Even if we have the
technological means to add water to a planet’s
surface and oxygen to its air, changing the planet’s
surface gravity is currently not even within
the realm of discussion. So terraforming seems silly, and
if people couldn’t live there more than a few months without
their bones falling apart. A theoretical
Venutian colony thus seems to have a
lot going for it. So why then this
tunnel vision for Mars? Surfacism. OK, I just made that
word up, but hear me out. Ever since the days of
seafaring exploration, we’ve had an
obsession with landing on the surface of things. If you don’t plant
a flag on something, it’s almost like having
gotten there doesn’t count. So what’s all this have
to do with Venus, which actually has a solid surface? Well it does, but
humans can’t land on it. See, there’s a teensy
problem with temperature. There’s so much CO2 on Venus
that the greenhouse effect makes the surface hotter
than hell– over 450 degrees Celsius, well above the
melting point of lead. But the bigger problem is
the barometric pressure on the surface. It’s over 90
Earth’s atmospheres. That means that landing
on the Venutian surface would be like diving one
kilometer underwater on Earth– far beyond the crush depth
of most military submarines. In fact, most probes
that NASA and the Soviets sent to the surface of
Venus imploded in midair. We learned our lesson and
a few reinforced probes did manage to touch down and
send images of the Venetian surface. But even those only
lasted about two hours before– [SOUND OF AN IMPLOSION]
–you know. The point is– I think
surfacism is a real bias. And the fact that we can’t
live on the Venutian surface could help explain why
Mars gets all the hype. But maybe that’s sensible. I mean, if a surface
will kill us, there’s no point in
going there, right? Not so fast. See, around 50
kilometers or 30 miles above the Venutian surface,
some interesting things happen. First, the temperature drops to
only about 70 degrees Celsius. That’s still super hot, but
firefighting equipment on Earth can withstand proximity to
forest fires with temperatures that reach over 2,000
degrees Celsius. The pressure at
that altitude also dropped to almost exactly
one Earth atmosphere. That means humans would
need heat-resistant clothing and oxygen masks, but not
spacesuits to walk around in that environment. Granted, there’s
the minor nuisance of sulfuric acid floating
around in the Venutian air, but that’s potentially
manageable. And at that altitude,
the atmosphere is still dense enough
for lots of stuff to floae– like balloons
filled with helium or maybe filled even with
just regular Earth air. Throw in the favorable
gravity, and it starts to look like the
upper atmosphere of Venus might be the closest
thing in the solar system to an Earth-like environment. So it might make
sense to colonize Venus with cloud cities. I am not making this up. NASA Systems Analysis
and Concepts Directorate has unveiled a conceptual
blueprint for this scheme. They call it the High
Altitude Venus Operational Concept or HAVOC–
interesting branding choice, but still super awesome. We’ve linked the NASA
videos in the description. You should check them out. Now for the record, this
is all still conceptual. We are very far from
sending this guy to lead our Venutian Cloud City. But NASA is taking
the idea seriously. Right now, most of
the chatter is still about using Venus as
practice for colonies elsewhere– like Mars. So we haven’t overcome
surfacism just yet. But this might change. The gravity issue alone might
make Venus the go-to option for long-term human habitation. Who know? Centuries from now,
if we learn how to sequester enough carbon
out of its atmosphere, we might even be able
to plant a flag or two. So what do you guys think? Is Venus a better
colonization option than Mars? Put your $0.02 in the comments–
or even better, tweet them, #occupyvenus. If we start a
grassroots movement, I’ll let you know on the
next episode of “Space Time”. Last week, we asked
how you measure the size of the universe? Here are some of your questions. awtizme asked, how can
space be expanding faster than light if the speed of light
is the ultimate speed limit? I’m going to answer
you in two parts. First, the speed of
light speed limit is for things moving through
space, not about expansion of space itself. The second, you’re right. I shouldn’t be
talking about space expanding at a given speed. I should be talking about the
size of the enlarge setting on a photocopier button. If I hit enlarge
once every second, then there will always
be two points on the page that– if they’re far
enough apart to begin with– will end up more than one extra
light second apart after I hit that photocopier button. lingwingzing commented that
this was a pretty intuitive way to understand inflation. Thanks for the compliment,
but be careful. We’re talking about expansion
of space in general. Inflation refers to a
very specific expansion of space that occurred in
just the first few instances after The Big Bang. The Mattman1313 says
that the Hubble Bubble is a possible
alternative to the idea that space is expanding at all. That’s not correct. Space is expanding– period. What the Hubble Bubble offers
is a potential alternative to the currently observed,
accelerated expansion of space. Look it up. And to Brandon Spears,
sure, we could always use help here at “Space Time”. Like the Hubble Space
Telescope, we’ve got schmutz on our lens too, so
give it a wipe and help us out. [MUSIC PLAYING]

100 thoughts on “Should We Colonize Venus Instead of Mars? | Space Time | PBS Digital Studios

  1. If you have the tech to pull the carbon out of venus' atmosphere then we could just do it here

  2. I’d go to Venus but I can’t handle working under extreme pressure in a toxic working environment

  3. Not a bad idea as our population grows, but i think they prefer Mars more because we're rying to get away from the sun since it will eventually collapse in the future..👏

  4. why go to Venus if it has been predicted that the sun will swallow Venus towards it's death

  5. Travel tens of millions of miles to Venus — but stop just short of it and stay in the upper atmosphere. In 1969, we called such a mission APOLLO 10! It was not exactly the culmination of JFK's goal. Why would we want to colonize another planet's atmosphere, but not its surface? It's not any surface"ism." it's that humans have legs, not wings.

  6. He forgot Venus’ many cons. One, Venus is spinning the opposite of the sun. Two, it’s atmosphere is TO dense, it traps all heat, it’s the aftermath of Global Warming. Three, it’s not in the Goldilocks zone, there fore, it’s far to hot.

  7. It's an idea but You have any problems with your balloons… You can never land or you'll be cooked and crushed.

  8. Maybe it's cooler on the poles of Venus. After all, there is ice on the poles of Mercury and it's even closer to the sun. https://www.space.com/18695-water-ice-mercury-explained-infographic.html

  9. People on Mars would eventually become not human. Be all long and light

  10. Colonization is impossible…it's science fiction and a major money pit to try to manifest it….it's too dangerous to send people into space

  11. cloud city is intriguing – a constant 160f seems doable given the wild extremes man and machine would need to handle for general space travel – our upper atmosphere reaches up to 1500c in temperature for example.

  12. Its like the quote from the movie Independence day.."They're like locusts, they're moving from planet to planet, their whole civilization. After they've consumed every natural resource, they move on." Only humans are the locusts here.

  13. No. Venus is not an option. Remember what happened to the Indians. Let’s not piss off the locals. They already tried helping us but we turned them away. Remember Valiant Thor?

  14. Looking for other planet to destroy? I wish God wipe humans ,humans is the mistake he made..😑

  15. "…mild nuisance of Sulphuric Acid on the atmosphere…" yeah, don't you hate when those diesel engines do that on Earth? so annoying… -_-
    There is a reason why you never heard Vital Floating Balloon and Sulphuric Acid in the same sentence. Another "detail", how would the city deal with the strong winds?, also who wants to go to live in a floating prison?

  16. We should take care of earth… It's the only true option… This is our home and planet! Not to mention it's totally impossible!! So yeah… This beautiful blue gem is home sweet home for a very long time to come!!!

  17. That’d be great, but Venus, even though it’s very close to earth and would seem like the better option lacks one thing in the mission, we don’t have the technology to keep the bases afloat, sure you could use gas but even they have to be replaced at some point, plus if one minor thing goes wrong on the city then you can kiss that colony goodbye, mars is good place to practice, to develop the technology to clean the atmosphere, so if we go there first and develop that technology we can then take it to Venus and start to do a mass clean of the environment which will most likely become the first terraformed planet, then we can expand it and find technologies to use on mars to give it a magnetosphere by warming its core, then we can use mars to go to jupiters moons and deploy colonies there, then move to Saturn’s moons (especially titan), move to Uranus, then Neptune, Pluto, and with all the technology we develop around the solar system, we can finally get rid of the dead useless planet Mercury, which is rich in metallic alloys, to build the ultimate energy source, a Dyson sphere, which we can use that unlimited energy to colonise our galaxy and develop a lot more technology. See a pattern here? It’s just like earth, Homo sapiens leave their place to expand, develop new knowledge along the way, etc. it’s how we are, we want to explore and we need to be smart about what we explore cause then we can just backtrack with the new tech and do something to our sister planet.

  18. The human race is too primitive. It can barely colonize earth let alone other planets which don’t have the right conditions for life which would require near science fiction tech to terraform into a liveable biome for life.

  19. China its already Reforesting large parts of the desert, Fucking China its on another level, people talking about renewable energy fuck that, that ain't gonna solve nothing.

  20. No… the Goldie Locks zone will eventually be in the area of Mars when the sun turns into a Red Giant.

  21. Craft sent to Venus MELT within one hour …Duh …

    Mars is too cold , low gravity , and high radiation .
    Not going to happen .

  22. Why not fix the earth first. Venus and mars are dead worlds. The idea of living on either is pure folly.

  23. If you could clear up all the toxic gases and give it an atmosphere then maybe but i think it'll still be a lil too hot. would maybe have to go underground? ah screw it, too complicated, gotta go to Neptune.

  24. Of course we should. It is a better option. The science points towards that. But we need to terraform it first, so it is less hot and can sustain liquid water.

  25. A nuke of more than 200 Megaton will blow parts of the atmospher out into space. That would lower the preasure and temperature. Or planting trees that binds CO2. That would also have the same effect. Mushrom cloud or forest. Your choise really.

  26. I would have to extend your "surfacism" to include the fact that we can actually see the surface of Mars – whereas Venus is eternally shrouded in clouds. This led 19th century astronomers to dream big – including silly people like Percival Lowell – & imagine they could see giant canals, etc. But in fairness, it would be a much more difficult & dangerous prospect to build & maintain some kind of huge floating city thing in Venus atmosphere, than to just dump some inflatable habitats on Mars. Imagine springing a leak. "Ahhh!!! The whole cities going down into Hell!!!" Imagine a storm blowing your city around like a balloon. Yikes. Double yikes. It's a reasonable idea for the future. But for now, we need to put a permanent colony on the Moon, and then do Mars. Rikki Tikki.

  27. How do you cool down Venus? If the atmosphere is too thick the radiation from the sun will get through the atmosphere and from there to the surface of Venus, but the radiation won't get back into space. I don't know if this is true but since Venus is closer to the sun than earth is, doesn't that mean that if the atmosphere is too thin it's still too hot for humans?

  28. Venus has a cloudlayer, made from sulfuric acid, that‘s about 20 km thick. Wouldn’t a „cloudcity“ be a little uncomfortable, if the clouds are acid? On the surface of venus it actually rains liquid sulfuric acid, but it evaporates before it touches the surface, because it‘s so hot. I‘m sorry but to me venus really doesn‘t seem to be a place where i wanna live

  29. Forget Venus,
    it's too hot!
    It even has the word SUN in reverse in its name.
    veNUS – SUNev

  30. Venus is so hot planet while Mars is too cold, therefore we, humans must stay in our Mother Earth and save her.

  31. Take the carbon out of venus, put it on mars, grow plants, they're terraformed.

  32. hmm..nice video.
    But if Earth EVER needed to be abandoned…i'd suggest we all figure out how to earn a billion dollar salary.
    Because us normal "middle class" folks…are doomed lol. So in the words of Sade…"Cherish the Day!"

  33. Dude you’re out of your freakin mind. You forgot to mention Venus takes 243 earth days to rotate once. Never going to happen. How about we start taking care of this planet so we don’t have to go someplace else to survive.

  34. Lets just move Venus to Mars and Venus got a new moon called Mars problem solved.

  35. I would visit Venus but would feel like I'm standing in the Hindenburg v2.0. What could go wrong in a dense acidic atmosphere when you're in a colony floating on giant balloons?!?

  36. And where will we get the $100 trillion or so dollars to do all this? What are people thinking? That there's going to be a big spaceship built to take 10 billion people somewhere else? This is it baby. Here's where we live and here's where we will all die.

  37. I wonder what kind of "mining" could be implemented in the atmosphere of Venus?

  38. Venus has short term benefits but it lacks the most critical long term requirement. Mining! It is easier to have people live there as long as you are shipping everything they need from earth but since we cannot go to the surface we are basically unable to acquire materials with which to sustain and expand any colony. So any colony that we put there would be more like an outpost. Even if we can build a machine that can survive the heat and caustic atmosphere anything that will get down and dirty with the Venusian rock will have its coating destroyed quickly. I won't say it is impossible but we already have experience with machines that have survived for years on mars. It could just be easier to stick to mars.

  39. The first place we need colonize is the moon!!! So we can have the extension to go anywere. Moon have the right materials to build…

  40. cheaper and easier than MARS? ummm…why not colonize this one? since we already have..you know…AIR !

  41. I don't think you're a scientist or even worked at NASA but with that idea about the "cloud city" could be a good idea if we can't live on land all because of the heat. I guess, basically, we're going to live just like the Jetsons.

  42. No man will escape the rupture, the second coming of Jesus and that’s a fact..

  43. ANSWER: NO!!! Of course no one talks of colonising Venus, it is the most hostile environment for a human colony imaginable. It would seem the only way to colonise Venus would be to strip away it's atmosphere and start again. Not only is Venus hostile to humans it is hostile to anything made of metal. Not only is there nothing good about Venus as a home (except its gravity) but as far as we know so far there is nothing as interesting on Venus as on Mars. There are lots of signs that Mars might once have hosted life, and some fossil or even living remnant of it may remain beneath the surface. At the moment we have no such indications for Venus.

  44. Thank you for thinking outside the box for colonizing a planet that is not named Mars

  45. Yeah why not?
    400 plus celsius with sulfuric rain sounds habitable than 20 and -40 celsius though.

  46. Are they any studies on the effects on low gravity at all? We know that micro-gravity or freefall is pretty bad at least in lengths of a year or less, it might drop off or we might adapt but that seems like a real risk.
    However as far as I know the only time anyone has ever spent in low gravity was on the moon and it was pretty short for a study on the effects of low gravity. Am I missing something?

  47. If Venus atmosphere is loaded with C02 then to terraform it why not send a rocket there loaded with algae and other microorganizms which should immediately start to grow in the rich CO2. The missile or rocket would not drop to the surface but instead at the 50 KM level eject BILLIONS OF those living units in the upper atmosphere where they would go to work making oxygen and cooling the planet.

  48. Why not instead use all that money to make earth a better place… NASA guys plz listen, the grass always seems greener on the other side, but i bet u we are far better off on earth…

  49. Venus had life as we know it,Mars too,the meteor belt was a planet ,all destroyed in the last cosmic war 4.5 million years ago.

  50. Destroy venus's ozone and let the sun strip all the CO2 and Sulfer. After surface conditions change enough, repair ozone, then colonize.

  51. I think a tungsten-tantalum alloy that is very thick, should be capable of taking on the extreme heat and pressure. And maybe the acid rain. I think the thickness would determine how many years it could last. So, we might actually be able to live on the surface of Venus. Of course astronauts would be restricted to the base, because no space suit could survive the surface conditions. It's either that or cloud cities!

  52. Plan #2, why don't we just cover the entire upper atmosphere of Venus in cloud cities, connect them all, plant crops and stuff and call it a terraformed planet.

  53. How about we don't screw up this planet our only home instead going to a bad and awful death in some dumb idea to colonize mars or Venus..

  54. Neither.

    Not until the concept of "paycheck" is eliminated.

    "We" are not going to Mars.
    Corporations are. They are hot-and-horny for all those minerals, precious metals and stones, and other resources in the Asteroid Belt. Mars is going to be a great big warehouse. YOU are going to just be "labor" IF the AI's are not developed beforehand.
    Ever worked/read about West Virginia mining companies? Yeah. Like that — only if you strike, the corporation turns off the air — like you agreed to in your "colonization" agreement.
    And don't think that "agreement" doesn't include your descendants on-and-off Mars — if they buy somewhere other than the corporate website, they are in "breach of contract" that was signed by "GGG…Gramps way back in 2087."

  55. Well the main reason to leave earth beyond population is to escape the ever expanding sun so closer doesn't make sense.

  56. Let's colonize the CENTER of the EARTH ! Get down Get Down. The big advantage here is that you will not need to build a rocket. All you need is a drill. So start drilling. DRILL BABY DRILL.

  57. Shouldn't we colonize the Middle East and bring it into the 21st century first?

  58. Yeah why in the hell would anyone decide to even try? The pressure would kill you immediately.

  59. USA could probably send a space ship to venus and Mars at the same time if they tryed but now it is Mars we are going to when we success on Mars will probably then be venus

  60. I just watched a documentary of terraforming Mars, and made a comment: "I'm more interested terraforming Venus". Then I found this video. Agreed with you! Same gravity and size is the main thing why I favor Venus. Add space mirrors and and good atmosphere, you could make both night and day sides with about even light and temperature. Weak magnetic field is not a big issue, Earth's magnetic field disappears every now and then for thousands of years, and life continurs. Also polar regions on Earth have practically no magnetic field protection, yet it's not hazardious. It's the atmosphere that shields life from the cosmic radiation.
    We change the crushing atmosphere, is the first step in terraforming… from the cloud cities.

  61. Why would be go anywhere? Thoughts…the other planet are alteady in habitable…so stay on the planet that is habitable….um build the same bs station here on earth.

  62. Nowhere in the near future …. We haven't finished destroying Earth yet !!!!

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