Let’s Talk about Venus

Why on (off?) Earth is NASA wanting to go check out the most inhospitable planet in the Solar System?

Well, first off, it’s only partially inhospitable. Sure, the surface of the planet averages a toasty 450 degrees Celsius on average; the atmosphere and “air” is mostly sulfuric acid, and a day is longer than a year (yes, you read that right). Why does NASA care about what’s going down on the birthplace of all women (or so the birds and the bees tell me..)?

Well, how about this. First, high up in the atmosphere, is a lovely Oxygen/Nitrogen breathable air mixture, sitting at roughly 0.8 bar pressure. Hey Jeff, wait a minute, isn’t Earth at sea level 1 bar and an Oxygen/Nitrogen mix? It sure is fellow awesomepants reader! But wait, there’s more, call now and receive an average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius, just pay separate shipping and handling.

Hold on Jeff. You’re telling me that Venus has breathable air, at a temperature and pressure that Humans can stand without a spacesuit? Yes. That’s exactly what I’m telling you. Only problem is, that dang hot acid air down below. Hey, Chemistry nerd reading this. What is Sulfuric Acid? H2SO4 right? Couldn’t we add some Sodium Hydroxide to a tank of collected Sulfuric Acid, and get the byproduct of water out of it (of course, filtering it a few times, etc.)? Since I’m no Chemistry nerd myself, my basic googling of the question says yes.

So, Venus has breathable air, temperatures and pressures sustainable to an unprotected body, a near unlimited supply of water, AND it’s closer to Earth! Why the hell haven’t we gone here instead of Mars? Well, we did.. kinda..

Our friends over in the former Soviet Union sent a few (13) probes over to visit our hot buddy in the 60s and 70s, under the guise of the Venera missions.

More on Venus, and those missions here and here.


Image Credit: CC, NASA/JPL-Caltech

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