Pin It

With robots tooling around the Red Planet’s surface and reporting back on conditions there, dreams of human space travel—complete with human colonies—have fixated on Mars. We've even argued about who should go. But some think we’re fixated on the wrong planet altogether: There’s a case to be made for human travel to Venus first.

On the pro side, the second planet from the Sun is closer to Earth than Mars, writes Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum. On the con side: "Venus’s surface is hellish, with 92 atmospheres of pressure and temperatures of nearly 500 degrees C."

Colonists to Venus would not build on the planet's surface; they would, in theory, set up a floating "cloud city" in Venus’s atmosphere. Of course, Venus-bound missions would "require big policy changes at NASA," writes Elizabeth Lopatto for The Verge.  But two scientists, Dale Arney and Chris Jones, of NASA’s Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate at Langley Research Center in Virginia, point out that about 31 miles above the surface, the gravity and pressure is Earth-like, temperatures stay near the more manageable 167 degrees F and the colony would be more shielded from the Sun’s radiation than Mars.

In other words, it might be easier in the long run to set up a human colony on Venus. NASA calls it the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) mission.

Good luck with that. I'll take Mars. To read more, click here.