Why Venus is the Second-Most Inhabitable Planet in Our Solar System

Illustration for article titled Why Venus is the Second-Most Inhabitable Planet in Our Solar System

Last week, I told you about Tobias Buckell's awesome new space zombies vs. alien-enhanced ninja novel, Sly Mongoose. The book hits stores this week, and SF author John Scalzi invited Buckell to write something about what inspired the novel. Buckell says that he owes it all to a NASA scientist named Geoff Landis, who gave a presentation on Venus that blew Buckell's mind and instantly spawned the idea for the planet Chilo where his novel takes place. The really cool part, aside from getting to read about floating cities on a planet covered in thick, sulfurous atmosphere, is that Buckell gives an excellent layperson's summary of what makes Venus habitable. Buckell writes, in part:

[In his presentation,] Geoff [gives] us the rundown on Venus and what planned missions to Venus are going to look like, or may look like if they're approved. Then he suddenly reminds us all about Venus's basic properties. It's hot. Crazy hot. The pressure is off the chain. It rains frickin' sulfuric acid! There's no air. Then Geoff says, all that aside, Venus is probably the second most habitable planet in the solar system. Say what? I'm intrigued, as Geoff goes on to explain that if you go high enough up into Venus's atmosphere, the pressure is standard, the heat normal, you're above the sulfuric acid-raining clouds, and then tells us that there, normal breathable Earth air is a lifting gas. So if you were to, say, enclose a mile-wide structure in a bubble, and fill that with normal breathable air, it would float. In other words, you get a scientific justification for Cloud City. As long as it's a giant floating marble.

Hell yes. And then maybe could you fill the floating marble with radio-controlled zombies, please? And like fight them? Yes, you could. The Big Idea: Tobias Buckell [via Whatever]

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Chris Braak

@tetracycloide: It may have to do with how high you have to go. If you're ninety thousand feet, or whatever, tethering may not be practical. Likewise, the conditions on the ground would still be pretty terrible—there'd be a lot of wear and tear on whatever the tether was.