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Final Approach

Project Genesis was one of two Grand Schemes To Avoid Extinction that came out of the aftermath of the Last World War.  As you know, the other, Project Exodus, involved interstellar colonization.  After the fifth Cityship departed Vesta in 2102, that project shut down.  Though crossing interstellar distances took decades, Project Genesis had a longer outlook: the time required to make another world habitable.

 Project Genesis considered the two likely candidates: Mars and Venus.  Though Mars was the sentimental favorite, it had some serious drawbacks.  First, Mars was small.  It would never again have a global magnetic field, and that would cause any created atmosphere to erode under the pressure of the solar wind.  Plus radiation would remain high, even after the development of an ozone layer.  Second, Mars lacked nitrogen.  This meant that any atmosphere would be nearly pure oxygen.  Not only was combustion too easy, but it also prevented the normal functioning of many microbial biological processes.  Third, Mars already had settlements.  Over a thousand people inhabited Mars by the time of the War, and an asteroidal bombardment would force their evacuation.  And finally, Mars also had native life.  It was primitive, microbial and subterranean, but decades of positive press made the "Extinction of the Martians" akin to genocide.

 Of course, the Martian colonists eventually overcame these objections.  They carefully dropped the fragments of a few dozen ammonia-rich planetoids onto the world to add nitrogen.  They developed medical procedures that limited radiation damage.  And as for those native Martians, well, they were related to Earth organisms after all, and the discovery of other related life at Europa and Titan, even deep in the cracks of Enceladus, limited the outcry against killing off a few Martian bugs.  Besides, Venus also had living organisms in its high sulfur clouds, but Project Genesis bureaucrats buried those reports in obscuria.

 Project Genesis began with the bombardment of Venus by water-rich planetoids.  These rocks achieved three effects.  First, they added water vapor to the parched world.   Second, their carefully aimed impacts imparted a faster rotation to the planet.  And third, they blew away portions of the dense carbon-dioxide atmosphere.  Ironically, in the short term, the energy of the impacts actually increased the hellish surface temperatures of the world.

 Impacts started with ten-kilometer scale comets and Outer Belt/Jovian Trojan bodies.  Drone mining platform landed on their chosen targets, deployed robots, and started the construction of large magnetic sails.  Powered by the drones' giant fusion reactors and fueled by planetoid ice, the sails slowed the planetoids' orbit and steered them on collision course with Venus.  On final approach, the drones would detach and with magnetic sails, begin journeys out to the next targets.

Later in the century, the first Kuiper bodies began to rain down on Venus.  The power of those fifty to eighty-kilometer scale bodies was two to three orders of magnitude greater than the earlier collisions.  The impacts were visible from Earth in the daytime.  And ironically, though few dared whisper it, these were also Extinction Level events.

 --Excerpt from Prince Cleon Farrar's open remarks at the Terraformation Studies Special Conference, August 2858. 

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