Could we live on airships in the atmosphere of Venus? © Dan Bright

Could we live on airships in the atmosphere of Venus?

Living in the clouds of Venus’ atmosphere could be possible but, since humans are more used to being land-dwellers, the focus has been more on colonising Mars.

Asked by: Andrew Cirel, Corsham

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Although the surface environment of Venus is extremely hostile, there is a region between about 50km and 60km above the surface where the atmospheric pressure and temperature are similar to Earth’s. In fact, this region may well be the most ‘Earth-like’ environment in the Solar System.

This has inspired the idea of vast floating cities occupying the Venusian atmosphere, without the potentially more difficult and costly process of ‘terraforming’ the planet below for human habitation. However, space agencies have so far been primarily focused on the possibility of colonising Mars instead.

This is partly because Mars already receives much more attention as a destination for unmanned exploration, partly because living in floating cities may be perceived as inherently more dangerous, and partly because we humans have become used to living on terra firma. So it looks like a life amid the clouds will be consigned to sci-fi for now.

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