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Venus: Descent Into Hell

Venus is Hell incarnate.  Its slow rotation doomed it.  Bereft of a magnetic field and subject to month-long days, the world's water escaped to space.  The oceans boiled.  The tectonic plates seized up and lava flooded the planet.  For hundreds of millions of years, the surface baked under ninety atmospheres pressure, a burning, crushing Hades.

Nearly a century ago, the Commonwealth authorized the Venus Terraformation Project, a plan to give the human race another livable world, a hope that future generations might be spared extinction in the event of another World War.  It will take centuries more for that plan to be realized.  For over four decades, multi-kilometer sized ice balls from the Kuiper have hammered the planet, unleashing dinosaur-killer blasts many times each year, slowly adding back water, blasting away the atmosphere and adding rotation to the world.

The day is still too long, the temperatures still too hot and the atmosphere still too thick. In just a few more years, superheated rain will begin to fall.  Then will come hearty microbes, fixing the carbon dioxide into limestone and burying the hellish lava surface.

Nobody lives on Venus full-time.  Even in the upper reaches of Ishtar Terra, the equatorial bombardment is too fierce -- the hurricane force blasts of the impacts reverberate around the world dozens of times.  But in the lulls between, science teams occasionally descend onto the surface, hurrying to carry out geological surveys before the surface of hell is paved over to make ready a new home for humanity.

--Grand Tour 2150: A Guide to the Solar System, Euphoria Press

All pages and images 1999 - 2009 by Geir Lanesskog, All Rights Reserved
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