Space Colonization: Mars and Venus

Space, it has intrigued and mystified us for thousands of years, today we are on the cusp of change. Soon, we will no longer be visiting space, we will be living there. Russia, China, and the United States have plans for colonization of the nearby planet Mars [4], and the organization Mars-One has plans of a human colony on the red planet by 2025 [4]. However, is Mars the only option? Throughout article I lay out two possibilities for future colonization. Mars and Venus.



Mars is the planet most commonly discussed on the topic of colonization. The fourth planet from the sun, Mars is 225,300,000 km from the earth [6].

NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (Cornell University), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute, Boulder),. The Hubble Space Telescope Sees Mars’s Close Approach In 2007. 2007. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

However, is colonization of Mars even possible, and could Venus be the better option?

Perhaps the largest benefit of Mars is the recent discovery of frozen water in its soil [1]. This water would be essential for human life. Mars’s atmosphere is wispy and almost non-existent as well as being only 0.4% oxygen [2]. However, oxygen could be extracted from the water, supplying colonists with breathable air [1]. While oxygen may not be an issue there are a few other problems with a Mars colony. For example, Mars has very little atmosphere, resulting in the atmospheric pressure being far below the level where people can survive without pressure suits [2], also the temperature shifts between −87 °C and −5 °C [6], making it completely unable to support any plants or animals that could be of any use. However, with the construction of pressurized chambers, and the use of space suits when outside of structures, people and plants, could live on the red planet [1].

Unfortunately, there are some barriers that many believe could make long-term habitation of the planet impossible. Mars lacks a magnetosphere like earth. Deep underground, flowing liquid metal creates a magnetic shield around Earth that protects us from the Suns radiation. Because Mars does not have a magnetosphere, colonists would be completely vulnerable to the Suns radiation [7]. We are unsure of how exactly the higher radiation doses would affect people living on mars, however, it would almost certainly result in higher cancer mortality among colonists, as well as other unforeseen effects [7]. The second factor is gravity. The surface gravity of Mars is 38% of Earth’s [6] and the trip to Mars is about 6 months [4], which the colonists would spend in zero gravity. The effects of low, or no gravity at all, can be crippling. Without the full effect of gravity, your bones and muscles atrophy much faster (wear away) [3]. On the international space station, astronauts exercise for around two hours every day [3], yet can still expect a loss of muscle mass as high as 5% per week [3], and a loss of bone mass at ten times the rate of someone with advanced osteoporosis [2]. Currently, astronauts rarely spend more than six months in space at a time [3]. However, for people living on mars, this rapidly reduced bone and muscle mass, could have horrible effects on their health, and it is unclear if children could be born, and develop in low gravity conditions.




Venus is often called Earth’s sister planet [2]. It is the closest planet to Earth, with a trip to Venus being 30 to 50 percent shorter then to Mars [2]. This means

References NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (Cornell University), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute, Boulder),. The Hubble Space Telescope Sees Mars’s Close Approach In 2007. 2007. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. NASA/JPL,. Computer Simulated Global View Of The Northern Hemisphere. 1996. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

colonists would spend less time in zero gravity on the trip, and food and supplies would be much easier to get to the planet [2]. However, if you know much about astronomy, you may be surprised that I am even mentioning Venus. Venus is incredibly hot! Do to the massive amount of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse effect makes the surface of Venus average at 462 degrees Celsius, making it impossible for a colony to land on the surface [2]. Also, the thick atmosphere makes the atmospheric pressure around 90 times that of earth [5], in which any people or equipment would get melted and crushed very quickly. However, about 50 km above the surface of the planet [5], the pressure drops to about that of earth, and the temperature would decrease to around 70 degrees Celsius [5]. While this is still very hot, firefighting equipment on earth can withstand temperatures of 2000 degrees, and modified suits and oxygen masks could easily deal with the heat and potential harms in the atmosphere [2], all without a spacesuit or pressurized chambers. Finally, due to the thicker atmosphere, balloons filled with helium or even ordinary earth air would float with much more force then on earth, and could support a colony in the atmosphere [2].

Venus has a few other benefits over Mars. Its atmosphere would provide somewhat better protection from solar radiation [2] (although it would still be drastically lower then earth), as well as protecting a colony from asteroids [2], which would burn up in the atmosphere and not pose a risk to the colony, like it would on Mars. Venus is also much closer to the sun, resulting in almost four times the solar power potential then on Mars [2] (which would almost certainly be used to power the equipment). However, the largest and most important reason why Venus may be a better colonization target then Mars is its gravity. Venus’s gravity is around 90% of earths, making the negative aspects of low gravity irrelevant [2]. Also the shorter distance between Earth and Mars, would mean less exposure to zero gravity on trips there and maybe even trips back. We are unsure how Mars’s gravity will affect people living there long term, however, most likely, they would be unable to return to Earth do to the loss of bone and muscle density, Earth’s gravity would crush them [2]. This is why all planned Mars missions are one way trips, with no plans for a return to Earth. With Venus it may be viable to have people return from the colony. However, Venus is still not a perfect option. For example, access to water would be much easier on Mars [1]. While Venus’s atmosphere it very heavy in carbon dioxide from which oxygen could be attained [2], water would not be available on the planet. For a Venus colony to exist, water would have to be transported to the planet along with food and equipment. However, supply trips to Venus would be much shorter and much less expensive than a trip to Mars and Mars would have to rely on earth for food and equipment as well [1]. Since constant resupply missions would be necessary for both options, this is less of an issue. Finally, a day on Venus is 116 earth days [8]! Resulting in months of darkness, followed by months of daylight. On Mars on the other hand, has a day night cycle only 40 minutes longer then earth [8]! On Mars people could sleep in tune with the sun, and get more benefit out of solar power. Mars also has a shifting axis, resulting in four seasons [5], Venus however does not experience seasons.



In conclusion, both options have positive and negative aspects, however Mars seems to be discussed much more often. However, Venus is not completely ignored. NASA has released plans for a human colony on Venus called HAVOC, or High Altitude Venus Operational Concept . However, NASA’s plans, and the rest of the scientific community remains focused on Mars, and if this plan came to fruition, it would be done complementary to Mars missions not as a separate project. In the end, any colonization effort of space would be revolutionary and beneficial for all of human kind, however, its important that we don’t get too focused or obsessed with one option or idea, we need to keep our minds open and look at all the opportunities before us.



Do you think we should focus colonization efforts on Mars or Venus? Why or why not?

What are some other options for space colonization I chose not to mention in this article?

Are you for or against space colonization? Why?


interested in space? learn more at Cameron’s blog covering extremophiles and the possibility of life in space! Or my newest post on why space travel is worth it!





[1] The Verge,. Can We Colonize Mars? – THE BIG FUTURE Ep. 2. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

[2] PBS Space Time,. Should We Colonize Venus Instead Of Mars? | Space Time | PBS Digital Studios. 2015. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

[3] NASA,. Gravity Hurts (So Good). 2001. Print.

[4] Mars One,. ‘Mars One’. N.p., 2015. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

[5] Epstein, Adam. ‘NASA Scientists Want To Colonize Venus With Giant Floating Cities’. Quartz 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

[6] Space Facts,. ‘Mars Facts – Interesting Facts About The Planet Mars’. N.p., 2012. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

[7],. ‘How Vital Is A Planet’s Magnetic Field? New Debate Rises’. N.p., 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

[8] Universe Today,. ‘Days Of The Planets’. N.p., 2009. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

citation method: MLA








33 thoughts on “Space Colonization: Mars and Venus

  1. Profile photo of nhersi4167 nhersi4167 says:

    Amazing article Elliot it was well written and researched thoroughly. If you ask me I believe we should focus our colonization efforts on Mars because colonizing there would have a lot more benefits such as its similarity to earth, its diplomatic potential, its economic value, its location, etc.. If you want to know more look at this site:

    1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

      I’m curious why you think mars is a better option then venus, or any other option? The article seems to mostly be oriented towards why we should colonize space in general, not mars in particular. for example, mars is actually further away from earth the venus, and any “diplomatic” advantage would be the same for mars or venus.

  2. Profile photo of aegorov5534 aegorov5534 says:

    Great article Elliot, this is a very fascinating topic to talk about! Everything overall is well written, and the citing/media is abundant and done correctly.
    In regards to your questions:
    1. I found the video in the Venus section interesting, but I found his main point lacking. He agrees there’s no feasible way, or at least for quite a while, for life to survive on the surface of Venus. He then proposes to have “Cloud Cities”. But I fail to see the purpose of them- why not just make them on Earth? Let’s say the Earth’s surface is in some sort of danger or is uninhabitable, the Cloud City idea would work here as well and would be even better. If we were to colonize a planet, it would be better to do so on the surface so we could actually use the planet to create an Earth-like environment or to mine for resources. I just don’t really see the purpose of going to Venus just to drift around in the atmosphere. I also prefer the philosophical idea of us going farther away from our planet and the Sun, which could lead to further advancements in space exploration instead of us going “backwards”. So I think that, although Venus could be some side-project, we should take colonizing Mars more seriously, and figure out ways of countering the negative effects there.
    2. I haven’t been doing a lot of researching on space exploration recently, but I have heard that Europa likely has water underneath its icy surface, which could support life. I’ve also heard that Titan could support life, along with moons such as Ganymede. And there’s always planets and moons beyond our solar system- if we can figure out how to get there.
    3. 100% yes. The amount of worlds out there in the universe is mind-blowing, it’s like the amount of sands in all the beaches of the world. Us being stuck on one of these sands and being convinced that it’s good enough is not an idea that pleases me, and I think humans need to explore the vast universe, and contact other species. It’s unfortunate that such advancements won’t likely happen during our lifetimes, but maybe some of my descendants will be able to experience the awe of being on another world.

    1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

      Thanks for taking the time to make a response Alex!

      1. Good point, And I agree that a colony right on the surface would have access to mineral resources and other benefits that you would not get from a floating colony, but the idea that a floating colony would pose no benefit is ridicules. studying the composition of the atmosphere, weather patterns, and studying the sun and other features we don’t have access to on earth. the scientific advantage of a colony on either option would be massive. also, the thicker atmosphere on Venus would make balloons more buoyant, and stay afloat easier.

      2. Thank you, this was the response I was looking for! Many of Jupiter’s moons such as titan, have vast oceans of liquid water beneath their surfaces that could support life. there are actual plans for a mission to the moon of Europa within ten years! you can find an article on it here:

      3. I completely agree and will be making a article on the topic in the future. The benefits of space travel are astronomical!

      Agree or disagree with this response? please leave a comment!

  3. Profile photo of rstjean0351 rstjean0351 says:

    Elliot, it is well done and was very interesting to read, however you seem to be a little more bias towards Colonizing Venus instead of Mars.It seems to me that u have done much more research for Venus as in Mars. Dont get me wrong though, i dont know anything about your personal opinion, i would like to know your personal opinion though. am i right with this assumption of Venus over Mars? which one would you colonize?

    1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

      Interesting insight Ron! Because Mars seems to be much more commonly discussed, I had to mention Venus a little more to get my point across. Also, a colony on Venus would be a little more complex and radical then one on mars. In response to your question. I’m of the opinion that any increase in space exploration would be of benefit to mankind, and if I had my choice, we would be trying to colonize both planets. Both have unique challenges and their own scientific benefits to explore.

      1. Profile photo of rstjean0351 rstjean0351 says:

        Thats interesting that you would want to colonize both planets. Yes it would benefit mankind a lot if we increased space exploration. However if you had to choose one planet to colonize what would it be?

      2. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

        Both options would have comparably positive effects on the scientific community. And I’d have to say Venus would be the better option. Its gravity is comparable to earth (in the atmosphere), and its closer and easier to support from earth. However, with the huge public interest in Mars, it would probably get more funding and publicity if the mission was to Mars.I would say both options need to be further studied too find a conclusive answer.

  4. Profile photo of bgriffit5407 bgriffit5407 says:

    I think that, Mars would be the best option because it already has things to offer like the possibility of water and oxygen. Even though it requires farther travel, I still think it would be the best bet. Also, with a rapidly increasing population, pretty soon we might need more space, so I think that by exploring this topic now, it can help prepare us for the future. Do you think that having people move to Mars would cause negative effects to the people, like maybe having people lose connection with family? I was also really curious about this as I was reading, can it be possible for phone calls to be made from Mars?

    1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

      Thank you for your comment! In response to your question, and information transmitted between earth and mars would go through a system of satellites, any communication would take between 3 and 22 minutes for the information to reach the other end. So no, phone calls wouldn’t be realistic. However, voice mail and video messages would be viable. They could even get internet access, if the website was download from earth in advance.

      If you want to learn more, check out

      1. Profile photo of bgriffit5407 bgriffit5407 says:

        Wow that’s so cool! Thanks!

  5. Profile photo of jwilson1260 jwilson1260 says:

    Great article indeed! The above comments pretty much some everything up. But I have a question for you: say Earth just began to colonize mars, and was shipping portions of Earth population to Mars to live there permanently. How would you think that pan-out politically? Do you think the populace would be divided to something similar to the movie “Elysium” where the wealthy live on mars and the poor and less fortunate are stuck on Earth, or do you think it would be a different situation entirely?

    1. Profile photo of childrop8174 childrop8174 says:

      Hey I know this comment was meant for Elliot but I hope you don’t mind if I jump in. I think that it would be more like in the show of Futurama ( know kinda takes away from my point) but in the episode “A Farewell to Arms ” people are chosen to leave Earth by having the countries involved hold a ceremony in which a computer decides who earns a boarding pass based on credentials, training, education, military experience and positions needed to be filled on the mission. The passports are then accepted during the boarding phase and the spaceships leave with all needed personal. I’m sorry for intruding but please tell me if you think this is right.

      1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

        Currently speaking, any colonization missions would only take vital crew members, such as scientists and engineers. We are very far away from having full blown cities in space. I think any mass migration effort is very far away. However, in such a situation, citizens would still be able to access earth internet, and make easy communication with people on earth (with a delay). Also, any colony would have to constantly rely on earth for supplies. My guess is that, earth and and space colony would still be very connected, and a divide would be less then you would expect. Hope this helps.

        Now a question for you: In Elysium, the rich don’t live on another planet, but a massive space station orbiting earth. Is such a thing even possible? what problems would they face?

      2. Profile photo of jwilson1260 jwilson1260 says:

        I come from the future! My way of saying that I’m replying a month after you posted your comment :P. Anyways, I absolutely agree Cameron. If you’re familiar with the game series “Bioshock” it’s concept of the city “Rapture” is somewhat similar to what you say. Just in case you didn’t know a hoot of what I’m talking about, Rapture was a city built in underwater in 1946. The goal was to create a Utopian city populated by people who here shining examples of humanity(scientist, writers, philosophers, and so on). However electricians, welders, and construction workers who built the city also inhabited the city. There became much conflict between the population of workers and the finest of humanity. Correct me if I’m wrong, a civil war broke loose. Soooo(I’m asking anyone interested) do you think anything like this is possible with planetary colonization?

        And to answer you Elliot(sorry for the wall of text), I don’t know if a floating station is in the question but I know for a fact that humans are painfully resilient and would find some means of survival with a living earth or not.

        Oh and by the way I found a nice photo I found on Reddit if you’d like to use it. It seems to have to do with your blog. it was submitted by “freshchill” on the Subreddit *ahem* “QuotesPorn”.

  6. Profile photo of ahassan2607 ahassan2607 says:

    A very informative blog post! The post is full of interesting facts! Though, I think you need to re-edit the post for minor errors, such as, “they would be unable to return to Earth do to the loss of bone and muscle density.” The ‘do’ needs to be changed to ‘due’. As well as, “making it completely unable to support any plants or animals that could be of and use”. The ‘and’ should be changed to ‘any’.

    I think colonization efforts should be focused on Mars. With available oxygen and water, Mars fulfills the very basic and important human needs. Furthermore, Mars has four seasons and a day/night cycle, similar to Earth. The planet provides the essentials and allows for normal human patterns. Space colonization should occur, it allows for humans to expand their universe and grow. It provides a learning experience and knowledge.

    1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

      Great, thanks for pointing out the grammar errors, i have gone through and fixed them. Also thanks for your opinion, on which planet you prefer.

      If you had the option to join the mars mission, living on the planet, but never getting the chance to return, would you, why or why not?

      1. Profile photo of ahassan2607 ahassan2607 says:

        If I had the option to join the Mars mission, I don’t think I would do so. I would be incapable of leaving my life on Earth, leaving all that I have known. I would never see my family or friends again. Also, I would have to leave behind all that I had worked for; an education, a career, a family and a house. I simply don’t have the courage to do so.

  7. Profile photo of mmaklad9954 mmaklad9954 says:

    First of all, very interesting topic and well written post. I learned a lot! Secondly, I think that colonizing on Venus would be a better option since, in my opinion, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Plus I think its kind of cool to live in the air.

    1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

      Great, thanks for reading, and sharing your opinion. Do you mind expanding on it?

      For example, what advantages are you referring to?

      If you had the chance, would you be interested in joining a colonization effort of Venus, why or why not.

      Also, if you are interested in space and this topic, i’d recommend this playlist about space, by one of my favorite YouTube channels “Crash Course”. They have a lot of fun and interesting ways of covering the topic.

      Trent actually links to a related channel by the same people in his blog on vaccines:

      Child Vaccination – Do or Don’t?

  8. Profile photo of childrop8174 childrop8174 says:

    Hey Elliot how’s it going? I have a question for you regarding your questions. Question 3 is about being for or against space colonization but I have never heard about anyone being against it. Can you give me an example of why they are or what points they have? I swear i’m not trying to be ignorant I just haven’t heard of this before.

    1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

      Good point Cameron. But unfortunately, believing that space travel is a waste of time and money, is not an uncommon opinion in politics. NASA is severely under funded, like most space organizations. People seem to think that space exploration is a waste of taxpayers money, and does not pose a real benefit. Personally i think this is very flawed logic, and will be making an article about how important space exploration is in the future. Don’t be afraid of asking questions, I’m happy to answer.

      In response, why do you think space exploration is such a good idea, shouldn’t spend taxpayer money on healthcare, or fighting terrorism, aren’t there more important things to spend money on?

      Here’s a site where people go over their opinions on why or why not space travel is worth while. They raise some interesting points.

      1. Profile photo of childrop8174 childrop8174 says:

        I hadn’t even thought about the financial part of space travel but either way my stance for space travel and colonization stays the same. I think that the majority of our problems could be solved by colonizing another planet. by moving people to a new colony we can fix our over population, we can gain new space for crops to help fix famine issues and we can provide jobs for unemployed through mining initiatives which will also help with the economy and research. all in all I think the argument for space travel is strong(with this one)

  9. Kristi Bishop says:

    I never realized that Venus was even an option for colonization. Thanks for the education! Given that both have disadvantages and colonizing either one will be difficult and expensive, what is the advantage of colonizing either one? Do we really need to? Are the benefits of colonization outweighing all of the costs of doing so?

    1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

      Good point, A question often raised is why invest in space travel anyways? wouldn’t the billions of dollars be better spent else where? For example medical care, or investing in our economy. Its a perfectly valid question, and I’ll be tackling it in my new post: Is Space travel Worth it? Until its posted, you can see some arguments for and against here:

  10. Profile photo of adunsige adunsige says:

    Wow! I didn’t really know about this topic until reading your post, and now you’ve given me a lot to think about. If there are downsides to both options, how can we best address these concerns to limit the impact on people? What would you suggest? I’d love to hear more of your thinking about this!


    1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

      Ultimately the human cost is low. Those who will be sent on these missions will likely never return to earth. Space travel is very dangerous and anyone sent out to colonize a new world will be excepting the high chance that they wont survive. The real limiting factor is gaining the resources to complete the mission. A mission like this will cost billions of dollars, and it would take quite a lot to gather the support necessary.

  11. Profile photo of sadli5478 sadli5478 says:

    Hey Elliot! This post was well-written and you clearly put a lot of hard work and effort into it! Also, you have thoroughly researched this topic. It really got me thinking about space colonization.

    1) Do you think we should focus colonization efforts on Mars or Venus? Why or why not?
    I think neither of them. This is because Earth is the best planet for humans to live on. Sure it would be cool but is it really safe? Not from what I read. Furthermore, it isn’t as convenient as living on Earth. Adapting to a new environment could potentially be very dangerous, and I don’t think it’s worth it overall.
    2) What are some other options for space colonization I chose not to mention in this article?
    I haven’t researched on other options, but as I said before, I believe Earth is the best option for survival. Living in another planet is frankly, a waste of time and research.

    3) Are you for or against space colonization? Why?
    Yes, for the reasons stated above.

    1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

      Great, thanks for answering my questions. Although I think you may be thinking a little closed minded. There are more reasons then just survival that push us towards space travel. I’ll be making a new post on how space travel is worth while soon. In the meantime, you can see some common arguments for and against space travel here.


  12. Profile photo of childrop8174 childrop8174 says:

    I know I already commented but I just want to say thanks for that link to my post. Every little bit helps!

    1. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

      No problem, I loved your post and it definitely deserves the support.

  13. Profile photo of lshibli5863 lshibli5863 says:

    Hey Elliot, great post,its very informative , i learned a lot from the facts and i’ve never really thought of something like this to actually be possible.To me the idea of venus and mars being colonized is quite crazy to think about,it gives you a lot of questions to ask.

    Do you think we should focus colonization efforts on Mars or Venus? Why or why not?
    In my opinion i feel like it shouldn’t be focused on but still can be an idea because i feel like their things that are going on in the world that are more major and more possible but im not saying we should completely destroy the idea but i feel like it shouldn’t be something that should be a major focus on researchers or scientists.On top of that im seeing too many negatives than the positives for example you stated ,” the temperature shifts between −87 °C and −5 °C [6], making it completely unable to support any plants or animals that could be of any use. However, with the construction of pressurized chambers, and the use of space suits when outside of structures, people and plants, could live on the red planet [1].”how positive are you that no accidents will happen with the spacesuits,the pressurized chambers? because a place like mars lets say is not somewhere you can take that risk,so how much are you willing to lose?

    What are some other options for space colonization I chose not to mention in this article?
    The what ifs

    Are you for or against space colonization? Why?
    I just feel like their is more important things to focus on that wouldn’t make people go against each other in choosing yes or no,in spending money on something that is debatable and dangerous, and like i said how much are you willing to risk.

  14. Profile photo of eivanski6650 eivanski6650 says:

    I just wanted to let everyone know I have a new post on Space. Its titled “Why Space Exploration is Worth It” and it answers some of the questions many of you are having here in the comments. check it out here!

    Why Space Exploration is Worth It

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