Trader Note

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Terraforming Venus

Venus is an Earth sized planet in easy reach for humans. However, the planet would need to be terraformed to even be able to land on the surface. This is because Venus is very hot. It also has a massive atmosphere that would crush most equipment and humans alike. So there are basic features that would need to be altered just to land on Venus.

  • Air Pressure
  • Planet Temperature
  • Planet Rotation Period
  • Electromagnetic Field
  • Water

Theory: The easiest way to terraform Venus is with bombardment of large ice asteroids, create a space ice reflective surface as well as put a large asteroid in orbit to create a sizeable moon.

It is assumed that robotics has achieved a level where a robot could be placed in the Oort cloud to harvest asteroids of ice. The initial thrusts could be delivered with a double mass propulsion (spin with 2 masses, release one). This could then be followed with an ion drive that utilizes the asteroid mass as propulsion. This method may be slow (no problem for a machine) to move masses into alignment with Venus. This takes care of the problem of attaining materials.

Once these asteroid ice blocks are approaching Venus, they could be put on a decaying trajectory and then aloud to collide with Venus. If the angle was in the direction of rotation, and the velocity of sufficient size to “bump” the planet, it would have the effect of increasing rotation. The increased rotation would increase the electromagnetic field (although without a near moon to “stir” the core, the effect of this may be limited). The rotation could be brought to a place with a more frequent day-night cycle (because it is nearly a year long now).

The near Venus ice asteroids could also be placed in orbit around Venus to reflect sunlight. Proposals have been made for shade structures to be used to reflect sunlight. However, it is far less work to use existing materials that are already in space, such as ice. These Ice asteroids would reflect a small amount of sunlight. As they melt (absorbed energy) they would create a comet tail that would farther diminish the amount of sunlight reaching the planet. This would effect farther cooling of the surface.

As the orbits of these ice blocks decay, they would naturally impact the planet, effecting the bombardment.

If a sufficient size asteroid was placed in orbit around Venus, some could be used to form a moon. This moon could grow to a size that would effectively flex the planet to liquefy the core.

The other benefit to a moon would be to lower the air pressure. As the planet was bombarded, planetary gasses would be thrown into space. Without a mass to trap these gases, they would eventually be recaptured by Venus. However, with a large body in orbit, some of these gases would collect onto the new moon. This would further increase the size of the moon, and potentially lead to a more stable orbit.

As Venus is bombarded, the planet would throw up a massive dust plume. On Earth, when ash and dust has blanketed the upper atmosphere, the dust has cooled the surface of the planet. On one occasion, Ice Ball Earth, this cooling was so great that the entire planet froze (reflecting most sunlight to farther cool the planet). This dust cloud would likely not have a sufficient effect to bring the temperature down to near Earth levels. Additional cooling would be required which could be effected by ice asteroids.

The bombardment of Venus with ice would effectively add water to the surface, which will be a requirement of any planet humans wish to settle.

As the air temperature lowers, extremophile bacteria could be introduced. These bacteria could convert some of the carbon dioxide to a more oxygen rich environment. Some extremophiles also exist in high sulfuric environments and may be able to lock up this sulfur to diminish the amount of sulfuric acid clouds.

The idea of ice bombardment of Venus will not fully create an earth like environment, however it may bring Venus closer to conditions that would support exploration and eventually life.

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