WIth humankind once again focused on the stars, the idea that an average, disgustingly rich human being could take a commercial flight to the moon is slowly becoming a reality. But what comes after? What would it be like to visit some of our celestial cousins? Let’s take a tour of the other three inner planets of our solar system and find out.
So, can we walk on the surface of Mercury? Well, with an average surface temperature of 800 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and -290 degrees at night, as well as 0.38% gravity to Earth, it sounds impossible. It may not be. Today’s space suits can handle temps as high as 250 degrees, as low as -250 degrees, and weigh about 280 pounds. According to SpaceAnswers.com, if you were to stick to the “terminator,” the line where night and day meet, the slow rotation of the planet would allow you to walk the terminator line and remain in a safe temperature zone of -148 degrees. So yeah, one day people could conceivably walk on the surface of Mercury.
Now Venus is a whole other bag of tricks. With gravity about 90% that of Earth, conceivably, you’d feel about 10% lighter on the second planet from the sun, but that doesn’t take into account Venus’ atmosphere. The massive amount of carbon in the air traps all the heat on the surface, resulting in a dry environment with an atmosphere so thick that, even with an advanced suit yet to be invented, you’d still have to deal with dense surface pressure. It would be like traveling 3,000 feet below the ocean surface. For context, the average crush depth for a modern nuclear sub is about 1,400 feet. So, we’re gonna go ahead and say, people probably won’t be stepping foot on Venus anytime soon.
Yes! Yes we can! And we will. At least, that’s what we’re working toward. With eccentric billionaires, other space-faring countries, and a newly emboldened NASA administration all working toward the same goal, the possibility of setting foot on the Red Planet in the near future is a real possibility. So far we haven’t discovered life but we’ve been landing probes on the planet for decades and everything we’ve learned tells us that we could land and maybe one day even colonize Mars. So start saving your pennies because who knows, maybe Mars will be that big trip you take when you retire.
For more info on a variety of other subjects be sure to check out our other Olympus Northpoint blog post.