How hospitable are the planets? (Terrestrial edition)

Before we begin, let’s assume that you no longer require things like air, water and food to survive, but you still breath, drink and eat on a regular basis (meaning, if you skipped a few meals, you wouldn’t die, you’d just be hungry). You’ve essentially IDDQD‘ed yourself. You also have a really powerful jet pack too, so getting to these planets is just a few seconds’ journey. Pfft.. physics don’t matter in this post (sort of..). Just how comfortable would you be living on these planets? Let’s find out!

Mercury

Well, this little guy is our Sun’s closest friend. The sun is a horrible friend though, because it’s constantly burping hot plasma directly into Mercury’s face. Surface temperatures range from -170 degrees Celsius at night (dark side), up to 400+ degrees Celsius during the day. With no bubble of atmosphere protecting it like Earth has, it’s just constantly taking these gaseous blasts all day every day. Speaking of “all day”, each day lasts two Mercurian¬†years, or about 176 Earth days. That’s a long time in the sun. Without an atmosphere, there’s only trace elements of “air” on the surface, not enough to take a nice deep breath, and it’s pretty poisonous to you at that. Not only would that be a giant breath of burning hot gas, it would contain mostly Hydrogen and Helium, and very little Oxygen and Nitrogen. You’d have to manually melt water-ice found at the poles to have a drink, and you’d only be able to consume food you brought with you, because no plants or animals could survive in the wild temperatures.

Venus

Earth’s closest neighbor, and where Women are from (or so I’ve been told). This place is just a horrible place to call home. With average surface temperatures of 450 degrees Celsius, and an atmosphere consisting of almost pure Carbon Dioxide, not much of the surface “air” consisting of almost pure sulfuric acid can escape. Think of walking into a green house, on the hottest day you can remember, and multiply it by about 1000. Luckily you gave yourself god mode, because you’re breathing in almost pure sulfuric acid, and the pressure above your head is about an average of having 1km of water above you, or about 92 times the pressure on Earth. Gravity wise, you’re pretty much the same, but you’ve got so much stuff above your head that it’s going to feel crushingly worse. Almost no sunlight gets through, so even if you somehow managed to plant a garden, no photosynthesis could occur. Obviously no animals could survive here, so no crop cultivation or worse yet, no BACON for you. Horrifying.. let’s leave.. quickly..

Mars

First one to find Curiosity, wins! Landing on the surface you’ll notice a few things. The temperature is much much cooler when compared to the previous two planets you visited. You can jump higher as you only have about 1/6th the atmosphere and gravity that Earth has, so yes, John Carter was mostly accurate. Your bone density among other things would make you substantially stronger than any indigenous species you may or may not find there. Next thing you’ll notice is that it’s not entirely a big ball of red/orange dust as perceived. Yes, there’s a lot of red on this planet, but it’s not entirely blood red. The colour of most of the surface is a dull grey, brown and has hints of redish orange dust. Don’t breath that stuff in, it’s almost as bad as the acid on Venus. It’s sharp triangle shaped dust particles mindlessly floating in the air will just eviscerate your lungs in a few breaths. You could grow plants here if they were impervious to the temperature, didn’t require water, and they would give you Oxygen that quickly dissipated into Space. For more info on surviving on Mars, see this post.

 

Total comparative mass of all the Terrestrial (inner) planets, including our Moon

Masses_of_terrestrial_planets

 

Next week: Gas Giants, or Dwarf planets (I’ve not decided yet..)

Jeff Wilton

Jeff is the founder and owner of Everyday Science Stuff. ESS is a one man operation, with the core belief that all education should be served without crippling debt tuition, without revenue generating ads and without any restrictions of any kind such as paywalls, forced login and account creations, geographical restrictions, and so on.

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