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Touring Terraformed Venus
If this is your first trip on Venus in the year 3000, prepare for a few shocks:
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- It's dawn, and the sky's fiery--in the west. Venus still spins backward. It's hard to get a planet to reverse gears! Currents, winds, weather patterns run backwards too. But basics first--the sun'll rise in the west...
- tomorrow. That is, today is called Dawn, and tomorrow is Sunday--when the sun rises. Venus spins faster now, its diurnal cycle is fourteen Earth days long--a big improvement on 225 before terraforming, the slowest of any planet. But worlds are stubborn, heavy things, and even pelting Venus with ice comets for centuries didn't speed it up that much. (If this were a thin-aired rock like Mars or Earth, the day would roast you and the night would freeze. Luckily Venus's thick moist air convects heat very well—the days are like summer, nights like winter, but neither grows intolerably hot or cold.) By Monday, the sun'll be low in the western sky, by Tuesday it'll be midmorning (natives call it spring), Wednesday is noon, Thursday and Friday, afternoon (summer!), and Setterday is when the sun sets--all day. Then comes a week of night, too. Except...
- Night isn't what it used to be. The new rings that shade Venus's dayside also brilliantly light up the night. The weeklong night runs: Dusk, lurid with sunset colors all day, then Eve when the blue evening light competes with the rings; Ring, when they're at their best (2000 times brighter than Earth's full moon); Yule, when Venus's shadow darkens the rings overhead and the stars come briefly out; Rain (and in most regions it does); Witch (the thirteenth day, cool and rainy too--Venus's winter); and Dawn, fiery in the west. The two-week cycle is locally called a "month", and the night half is just as lively as day, since it's as bright as good indoor lighting or open shade on Earth. Jet lag? Jet lag is nothing. Prepare for profound temporal disorientation. Prepare for time-rapture.
- You'll be high for your first week on Venus. Air pressure at sea level is nearly four times Earth's--over seven times Mars's! Even after removing Venus's excess carbon dioxide, there was that much gas left over--nitrogen, argon, and now free oxygen. Its "partial pressure" (the best index of breathability) is some 30% higher than Earth's and 60% higher than Mars's. The oxygen invigorates, and the nitrogen... well, you'll be a bit euphoric for days. Enjoy the buzz, but don't sign any contracts!
- And most importantly for our tour, thick air means lift under your wings. Yes, you can fly. On Earth today, no flying creature weighs over 15 kg / 35 lbs. On Venus, flying's so easy that everything does--even good-sized mammals glide like flying squirrels. For people, too, wings are the normal mode of transport--a human can cruise as fast as a migrating goose, 90 kph (nearly a mile a minute). So strap your wings on (unless of course you're a native with gengineered angelwings) and make sure they're comfortable, because you're touring Venus under your own wingpower.
LISTS AND LINKS: two related world-models: Futures - more worlds: Planetocopia - dreams of other worlds - orbital dreams - global warming and climatology - terraforming - anarchy - utopias - genetic uplift - animal people - time: futurology, the deep past, time travel - more strange essays - volcanoes - water and seas - physics and natural law - air! - a Venerian prehistory for Earth?: What the Pteros Tell
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