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Is it possible to turn Venus from boiling hellscape to liveable world?

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Venus is not a great place to be. Its surface reaches temperatures up to 475°C (900°F), which is hot enough to melt lead, and even high up in the atmosphere where the temperatures and pressures aren’t so intense, the sky is plagued by clouds of sulphuric acid. But Venus probably wasn’t always so bad – it may have once been a temperate world similar to Earth, before a runaway greenhouse effect ruined the place.

In this episode of Dead Planets Society, our hosts Chelsea Whyte and Leah Crane attempt to turn back time on Venus, helping it live up to its habitable planet potential. Planetary scientist Paul Byrne at Washington University in St. Louis joins them once again in their uncharacteristically benevolent mission to fix Venus.

The first step is to clean out that dense, hot, sulphur-filled atmosphere – a difficult task, although easier than terraforming Mars would be, thanks to Venus’s larger size. This could potentially be done using some of the same technologies that have been proposed to help mitigate global warming on Earth… or it could be done by using a giant potato gun that shoots asteroids. It’s anyone’s guess which path our hosts will choose to go down, but one thing is for sure: it’s not going to be great for the rest of the solar system. And things will only get more chaotic when they move Venus into a cooler orbit further from the sun in order to maintain its new, friendlier climate.

Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from snapping the moon in half to causing a gravitational wave apocalypse – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.

To listen, subscribe to New Scientist Weekly or visit our podcast page here.

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