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Why We Opted for Mars, not Venus

The surface of Venus

For years, the idea of colonizing another planet has fascinated the world (and with our climate crisis, become a very topical issue). After the moon, there are two obvious options, Mars and Venus. Obviously, we have directed our efforts towards Mars, but why not Venus? Venus is more comparable to the Earth in size and internal makeup, and the two are nearly the same distance from the Earth at their closest points. The problem is that Venus is nowhere close to inhabitable. Even machines can’t make it, as the few spacecrafts that have landed on its surface survive a few hours at most. So how long would humans last?The first threat would be Venus’ atmosphere. Comprised of 96% carbon dioxide, and only trace amounts of oxygen, we wouldn’t be able to breathe without assistance. Coupled with that, the air pressure on Venus is roughly 1352 psi, something far beyond what human bodies are built to withstand (as a reference, this is 92 times stronger than the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere, and the world record deepest scuba dive without a pressure suit experienced roughly 450 psi). Finally, there is the temperature. Due to its high level of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, the atmosphere of Venus traps heat, making it the hottest planet, even surpassing Mercury. Venus’s average daily temperature is an astounding 870° Fahrenheit. Without even touching on the long term challenges of colonizing Venus (such as volcanic activity), we would not have enough time to die from hunger or thirst which would make up the next couple challenges in colonizing the planet. Its current properties make Venus a deadly venture for any person or object foolish enough to land on its surface.


2 thoughts on “Why We Opted for Mars, not Venus

  1. I’ve always found the idea of colonization of another planet in the future to be very interesting. It is also interesting how similar in make-up and size Venus is to us yet how much different its surface temperature is to ours. It just goes to show how great of an affect atmospheres can have on planets regardless of the distance from the Sun, composition, and size of the planet.


  2. TA Response:

    I think this post makes it clear that colonizing the surface of Venus if truly impossible with current technology and even if it is possible in the future it surely is not worth the trouble.

    One idea though, that is constantly thrown on how to colonize Venus is the idea of floating cities, where giant structures would sit on the dense clouds in the upper atmosphere!

    There is a pretty decent page on Wikipedia about this if you are interested.


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