NASA Has Renewed Interest in Venus

It seems when talking about planetary exploration it’s always Mars that is the subject of interest.  But after ignoring our closest celestial neighbor for quite some time there are finally missions slated to explore Venus after many years.  

One of the things scientists are hoping to discovery has to do with the atmosphere of Venus.  Given the hot planet’s relatively similar size to our own, studying the atmosphere of Venus could have great potential for learning about our own atmosphere.  In an interview with Space.com, Jeffery A. Landis said “one very good reason is that there has been a renewed interest in study of the atmospheres and climates of planets.”

But interest in the exploration of the hot planet has until recently been lukewarm at best.  Even while missions proposed to mars suggest it could have human footprints on it by the year 2030, Venus is very rarely considered for planetary exploration due to the fact that when people talk about Venus they describe it as a hellish landscape with an atmospheric pressure for humans to be able to survive or even most  exploratory craft for more than a few minutes.  The surface temperature is incredibly high when compared that even of the points on the Earth’s surface closest to the equator.  Unassisted humans would not be able to survive on the planet’s surface.

Because Venus is similar in may respects to earth, many suggest that terraforming the planet would be not only beneficial but quite feasible.  Late astronomer Carl Sagan suggested this could be achieved by reducing the temperature and pressure, and finding someway to reduce oxygen on the planet.  Some proposals for fighting the greenhouse affect have been thought about to  help change the surface of Venus as the greenhouse affect is the primary limiting factor for human inhabitance or visitation.  One suggest is the introduction to modified organic creature such as plants or animals or bacteria in order to have an affect on the atmosphere.  Additionally the introduction of hydrogen to the could create water on the surface of the planet.

In the end, will we ever find a way to transform the surface of Venus?  Even if we do discover, in theory, some way to do it, will the human race have what it takes to commit to a gradual transformation of a hostile dead planet into one that can sustain life in forms that we are familiar with?