Problems of Venus

Problems of Venus

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Image of Venus made with data recorded by Japan's Akatsuki Spacecraft in 2016
Image of Venus made with data recorded by Japan's Akatsuki Spacecraft in 2016. Source: Japan Akatsuki Spacecraft (opens in a new tab)

Why not start here?

What we heard about Venus in our last chapter seemed great. Now, why not start on Venus instead of Mars?

Well, as you can probably imagine, when building a city on top of or in the vicinity of clouds, you'll have to get it up to that distance somehow. Since we're probably not going to find a way to make things magically float out of nowhere, we would have to build something to carry our Cloud Cities. Even if we get that to work, if there is ever going to be a strong storm or any other issue we might not even be prepared for - because honestly, we have no idea what Venus is like - our carrier device might break or get damaged and collapse, together with the entire Cloud City.

That alone is pretty good of a reason not to try and settle on Venus until we absolutely know what we're doing, but it's getting even worse. Here's a couple of reasons to approach Venus with necessary caution:


If we want water on Venus, we'd have to stick to the clouds and not to a spot above them. But if we do so, on the flipside, we might expose ourselves to strong weather conditions passing by our Cloud Cities. But doesn't it rain sulfuric acid on Venus?

Yes. The venusian atmosphere has a sulfuric acid cycle that produces water vapour naturally. Sulfuric acid droplets raining down from the clouds evaporate when getting in touch with Venus surface, decomposing to sulfur dioxide and water vapor. As they rise up in the atmosphere, they recombine with each others, creating sulfuric acid and the cycle repeats. By heating the clouds droplets with concentrated solar energy from solar furnaces in our Cloud Cities, we could seperate the water from the sulfur dioxide to produce and re-use water for the habitats.

Sulfuric acid

We would need to protect the habitats and anyone who ventures outside them from the sulfuric acid in the venusian atmosphere. However, using materials such as lead, tungsten, teflon or glass, we could seal suits and the Cloud City's outer layer from this acid. For our City, glass would probably be the best bet to not make us feel like we're trapped in a black box. Many concepts for a Cloud City like this play with constructions called geodesic domes. More on that in the next chapter.

High UV from the sunlight

Admittedly, this shouldn't be too big of a problem with the help of specially coated glass. After all, sunglasses are not nanotech.

Much longer days

A day on Venus amounts to approximately 4 days on Earth. While this sounds like a horrible condition to be in as a species that needs 8 hours of sleep per day, you might be surprised: There's an invention called the roller blind! We could just sync our habitats day/night rythm with the one on Earth by closing the blinds every 16 hours.

Small error tolerance

When landing on or taking off from Mars, you would most likely be seperated from the city or habitat by a couple hundred meters or miles even. Additionally, you're on the ground of a planet. The worst thing that could happen is the rocket blowing up - and or people dying by that. However when landing on or taking off from a Cloud City, you have a much smaller error tolerance because there's not enough space to seperate landing zones too far from the habitat and explosions could make the Cloud City collapse.


As you might have noticed, we can sort all of the given issues out even nowadays, apart from the last one. Since the last one is an issue that can only be improved upon by gaining more experience in the field of rocket engineering, we can't make Venus our first target. Our risk tolerance on Venus is simply too low for the very limited security of our current rocket technology.

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Additional Resources

  1. Robert Walker created a very thorough article about Venus and potential issues on it on Science2.0. Feel free to check it out if you want to go into greater detail on this.