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I suppose it'd be a whole lot better if we start exhuming them by other means, ie. waiting for natural eruptions to occur or make some by our own (Hmm...)

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Edited by YNM

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On 1/3/2017 at 9:39 PM, kerbiloid said:

launch thermonukes into the near-earth asteroids (occasionally into comets), and reorbit them into the Venus.

btw that's the obvious way to clean the near-earth orbits from dangerous objects.

Seems iffy.  Venus' atmosphere gives it a lot of protection from asteroid strikes on the surface.  For this scenario to work, an asteroid would have to be big in order to make it through the atmosphere sufficiently intact (and at sufficient speed) to throw up any significant quantity of ejecta.  And that means you need to move a really big asteroid.  And that's hard, even with nukes.  Nukes certainly make for a great fireworks show, and they're effective as weapons of destruction... but they're actually not super efficient as propulsion mechanisms.  Can a megaton warhead do more than a chemical rocket?  Sure... but not as much more as you might think.

Even with nukes, the best you'll be able to give a big asteroid is a very tiny dV nudge, which means you have to be prepared to wait a really long time until you luck into finding an appropriately sized asteroid that's already a really near-miss to Venus, so that you can nudge it into an impact.

And no, that's not a double-duty solution for protecting Earth from asteroids.  Any asteroid that's in any danger at all of colliding with Earth is not going to come anywhere near Venus.  A tiny nudge to an asteroid will avoid an Earth collision, but won't move it anywhere near Venus.

On 1/4/2017 at 1:37 AM, KSK said:

First: terraform Venus.

How?  Bearing in mind that we're limited to present-day technology, here.  I would say that this, 1. ain't gonna happen, it's simply not doable; and, 2. even if you could do something, whatever-it-is would take centuries at best to have any significant effect.

 

On 1/4/2017 at 11:00 AM, StrandedonEarth said:

The only "easy" way to do anything on Venus would be to move a carbonaceous asteroid to the Venus-Sun L1 point and spin a huge sunshade out of it. I'm not sure how big it would need to be, but it could be smaller if it could somehow (mass driver using waste material?) be held between the Sun and Venus closer in. Then you just need to wait for Venus to cool and the atmosphere to condense out, which would probably take centuries.

This is going to be problematic.

Not just because of the scale of the sunshade itself.  (Just to put some numbers to it, to give an idea of the scale of the problem:  a Venus-sized disk of solar sail material at 1 gram per square meter would be 115 million metric tons.)

But... it actually would be a solar sail.  Light pressure from the Sun is going to make it impossible to keep in place.  If you make it heavy enough not to be shoved around by sunlight, then you make it way more massive.  And if you put it where gravity can help keep it in place against the radiation pressure (e.g. on the solar side of the L1 point)... now it's so far from Venus that the disk has to be a lot bigger than Venus to shade it from the sun.

And even if you could drastically reduce the sunlight on Venus... as you mention, it's going to take a long time to lose enough heat to condense out the atmosphere.  There's an awful lot of atmosphere there, it's got a lot of stored heat, and it's made up almost entirely of a pretty good greenhouse gas.

On 1/5/2017 at 5:08 AM, Jonfliesgoats said:

Perhaps you could use some sort of electrolytic process to charge your equipment on Venus to prevent acidic ions from reacting with it?

Nope.  Aside from the energy problem... putting static charge on things doesn't prevent chemical reactions.  It doesn't work that way.

18 hours ago, PB666 said:

Given that I have a type of plastic made of a carbon-lithium-boron material that is space stable and can refract light up to 30 degrees.

Same problems as the asteroid-sourced sunshade that StrandedOnEarth proposes, above.  Too much mass.  No way to hold it in place against radiation pressure.  Putting it way far out past L1, to try to keep it in place, requires it to be far larger.

18 hours ago, PB666 said:

So imagine the L1 for venus is 2 million miles from venus of a toral of 100 m miles to the sun. The sun is  about 100 Venus in diamter and Venus is about the diameter of the earth. So lets just say radius 6,500,000 meters

The Sun, as seen from Venus, has an angular radius of 0.00644 radians.  So, if you're putting your sunshade 2 million miles out, your sunshade will need a radius of nearly 13 thousand miles, quite a bit bigger than the planet itself.  That's a radius of 20.7 million meters, i.e. three times the radius and nine times the area of what you're proposing.

You're also proposing a sail that has a vanishingly tiny mass for its size.  It'll have huge problems with solar-sail acceleration.

18 hours ago, PB666 said:

The problem is how to thin the atmosphere. Instead of protecting the venusian atmosphere from the sun, lets just wipe it out. THis can be done quite easily and probably more cheaply... The molecules and atoms can be excited by huge number of lasers... to essentially blowout of the atmoshere into interplanetary space.

So, essentially, "blow the atmosphere off the planet."  Never mind the exact mechanism (excited atoms, electrostatic repulsion, etc.)  What you're suggesting is to take stuff that's on the planet, and move it off the planet-- in other words, escape the planet's gravity.  So that gives us a bare minimum figure right there for "how much energy will this take", since we know the mass of the atmosphere and we know the planet's escape velocity.  Venus' atmosphere has a mass of 4.8E20 kg.  Escape velocity is 10.36 km/s.  So, let's say it's sufficient to remove only 90% of the atmosphere.  Getting 90% of 4.8E20 kg up to 10.36 km/s is an energy investment of 2.3E28 joules.  That's the bare minimum, mind you-- that's how much kinetic energy you need to impart.  No process is 100% efficient, and so the actual energy required is going to be a lot higher.  Let's suppose we come up with some super-efficient process that manages to be roughly 25% efficient, so that we "only" need 1029 joules to do the job.  That's a... pretty tall order.  Just to put things in perspective, in 2014 the total worldwide production of electricity was about 8.5E19 joules.  So, to do what you're proposing would take about 1 billion years' worth of the entire 2014 worldwide electricity production.

So, even if we somehow manage to boost our power output a thousandfold in the next few decades, and devote all of that to boosting gas off Venus... it's still a million-year job.

18 hours ago, PB666 said:

A third means, we all know that venus barely spins, but it might be possible to tidally lock it with the sun.

Nope.  Try this and the numbers go off the charts.  This is orders of magnitude less feasible than any of the above proposals.

And in any case, it wouldn't work.  Even if you could wave a magic wand and tidally lock Venus today, it would have no noticeable effect on the thermal distribution around the planet.  Venus takes hundreds of days to rotate; its atmosphere churns and rotates and mixes much faster than that.  So the circulation of the atmosphere would keep the temperature around the surface of Venus pretty close to uniform, even if its rotation were completely stopped, rather than being merely nearly completely stopped as it is now.

17 hours ago, radonek said:

It gets even better - careful placement of impacts could push planet's orbit.

No, it really, really doesn't.  Planets are incredibly hard to move.  The numbers are just ludicrous.  Bear in mind that the total mass of all asteroids in the solar system is much less than a thousandth the mass of Venus... which means they'd have practically no effect on its orbit.  That's even if you had the energy and reaction mass to move them all into Venus-impacting trajectories, which you don't.

 

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Hypothetically speaking, I'd prefer to just build a space elevator on Titan's surface, and just suck up all those rich liquid hydrocarbons for shipment/use at the other colonies. Instant profit! :D 

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What if I say that 92 bar and 490ºC aint that big?

We have high temperature alloys, and pressure isn't really a problem, low pressure (for liquids, because sublimation) and differential pressure are and there is none in venus surface.
Heck, superalloys inside rocket engines works in worse conditions.
The problem is electronics, there is no hight temp electronics, it is theorized that silicon carbide based electronics could withstand 600ºC temps. So maybe we can develop that, but you are getting put out any develop. Fortunately we can do mechanical automats/computers, they are pretty old and basic, it just need lots of more mass.
Other option is using liquid nitrogen/whatever to refrigerate a little control center inside the craft.
Maybe other problem is energy generation, but we can deal with that generating even more temp, so a nuclear reactor or a pretty big RTG is workable.

To improve my though I need a better definition of what are we talking about "mining". High concentrated ore? Diffuse in the dirt? How hard is it to do a mechanical automat that does that? Just graving X ton of dirt and bringing to a flying refinery is enough? The last one could be relatively easy

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3 hours ago, Snark said:

The Sun, as seen from Venus, has an angular radius of 0.00644 radians.  So, if you're putting your sunshade 2 million miles out, your sunshade will need a radius of nearly 13 thousand miles, quite a bit bigger than the planet itself.  That's a radius of 20.7 million meters, i.e. three times the radius and nine times the area of what you're proposing.

 

 

Quote

You're also proposing a sail that has a vanishingly tiny mass for its size.  It'll have huge problems with solar-sail acceleration.

So, essentially, "blow the atmosphere off the planet."  Never mind the exact mechanism (excited atoms, electrostatic repulsion, etc.)  What you're suggesting is to take stuff that's on the planet, and move it off the planet-- in other words, escape the planet's gravity.  So that gives us a bare minimum figure right there for "how much energy will this take", since we know the mass of the atmosphere and we know the planet's escape velocity.  Venus' atmosphere has a mass of 4.8E20 kg.  Escape velocity is 10.36 km/s.  So, let's say it's sufficient to remove only 90% of the atmosphere.  Getting 90% of 4.8E20 kg up to 10.36 km/s is an energy investment of 2.3E28 joules.  That's the bare minimum, mind you-- that's how much kinetic energy you need to impart.  No process is 100% efficient, and so the actual energy required is going to be a lot higher.  Let's suppose we come up with some super-efficient process that manages to be roughly 25% efficient, so that we "only" need 1029 joules to do the job.  That's a... pretty tall order.  Just to put things in perspective, in 2014 the total worldwide production of electricity was about 8.5E19 joules.  So, to do what you're proposing would take about 1 billion years' worth of the entire 2014 worldwide electricity production.

So, even if we somehow manage to boost our power output a thousandfold in the next few decades, and devote all of that to boosting gas off Venus... it's still a million-year job.

Nope.  Try this and the numbers go off the charts.  This is orders of magnitude less feasible than any of the above proposals.

And in any case, it wouldn't work.  Even if you could wave a magic wand and tidally lock Venus today, it would have no noticeable effect on the thermal distribution around the planet.  Venus takes hundreds of days to rotate; its atmosphere churns and rotates and mixes much faster than that.  So the circulation of the atmosphere would keep the temperature around the surface of Venus pretty close to uniform, even if its rotation were completely stopped, rather than being merely nearly completely stopped as it is now.

 

I did say you need to double the radius and add it to the radius so yeah around 20,000,000 meters. Pi x 20E6 = 1.2E15 the value that I used.

The problem with solar wind would require some sort of ion diversion, which might include channels that the force the plasma through the lense.

Blowing the atmosphere would be counter productive, but CO2 levels definitely need to come down, otherwise the venture is hopeless. .

As for tidally locking venus. Remember that I gave a caveot a slowly rolling device that ejects the carbon dioxide from the center, you could fill the space with an equal pressure of nitrogen. The problem with tidal locking is it really only works well for perfectly circular orbits. without That there is precession, but with wheels that problem is diverted. . But a movable device could be used to essentially wall CO2 from a small area, the permit nitrogen into that area, immediately the ground would not cool simply because you are moving faster than the rate of radiation, but if you go an area long enough in size eventually it would start to cool and you could then work on the tailing edge of the moving area.

Of course we have been forced to devise a plan with todays technology, and blinding ourselves to a number of technological hurdles that would need to be made even if you operated on the moon (as I pointed out, there will not be a venusian landing prior to lunar and martian landing and ISRU use so the technology, there, is a starter.

But in addition to that you have materials required for each of my proposals that simply do not exist, they could exist.

1. You could have a frenal lens that diverts light away from Venus, at 10A though thats only going to work for very high energy radiation.  The wavelength of light is 100 times larger than each motif in the lense, which would interfere with the light and might cause more reflection than difraction; a significant amount of solar pressure on the lens. It may not be doable, certainly the amounts are not insane on a planetary scale so you could make the lense say 1mm thick, but that would definitely slow down the production and prevent large scale transportation. But there are new 'quantum' materials coming online that have the ability to screw with light in weird ways, so it might be possible.
2. Breakthroughs have been recently made in creating long distance magnetic effects (for example magnetic cloaking) so it is possible to create magnetic channels that allow the solar wind to pass, they could be even used to create force and allow the rotating disc to turn in space keeping tangent between the sun and planets surface. Think about it like this for the first ICE you didn't really care about flow dynamics, now for the modern jet engine its all about flow dynamics, the flow theory begins before prototypes are being made, when we look at planetary magnetic fields we used to think about inclinations and intensities over large scales, now we see from studies in space that Earths magnetic field is far from being a continuous grade, but interacts with gases in space to have hot and cold spots. This knowledge could be applied to stuff coming from the sun and could be used to reshape the solar winds so that the flow seamlessly through the lens like flood waters going around a well designed bridge footing. So even if the lense was reflective or a big solar panel, you could use the lens to accelerate solar plasma on a outbound vector using it to push against the solar pressure. A solar sail is designed to capture solar wind and pressure not divert, so of course if you design your lens like a sail you will have problems, so the lens would have to take a different design. Is this likely to happen,  nope. nope, nope.

As for taking advantage of Venus's slow rotation, again technology is foundationally a problem even if the theory allows it. Moving an array across the surface like an inchworm requires a wheel technology we don't have. That has to be couple with the issue we would need to have a very good way of separating CO2 from N2 which is very difficult at 500'c So you would need a cold spot on Venus to solidify the CO2, There is a way though, presumably the CO2 came from metal salts. Then use the metal salts to capture CO2, Presumbly the lasers would separate CO2 from N2, but the problem is that the velocity of CO2 would be so great at ground level because of upper atmospheric power requiirments that the CO2 would easily superheat the adjacent nitrogen preventing its entry. Its possible that if the N2 exists clear of CO2 at the top it will flow over the barrier into the sheild, not likely.

If you are clever, you could  do this:

Sublimate CO2, use the nitrogen to pressurize the inside, while still cooling use CO2 to cool the surface by sublimation geting it very cold, using the heat from the leading edge to react CO2 with metal on the lagging edge to (you also need to create diamond or graphite) and form MCO3 which you then bury and cover with a layer of insulation such as and then with pure metal and then a heatsheild like material. When you are don the CO2 should be locked for an entire solar relative rotation of Venus. In this way you could reduce the amount of CO2 by burying and locking it into carbonates. Yes they are thermally unstable thats how C02 got up to begin with, but coupling that with some sort of reflective lens could reduce the insolance sufficiently to prevent another greenhouse effect. Here in lies the problem, its not that Venus has more CO2 than nitrogen, it has more nitrogen than earth and it has 4 magnitudes more CO2, so even if you removed all the CO2, the nitrogen alone might be sufficient to trap sunlight, therefore it must be done on the dark side of the planet and it would require 3 or four weeks minimally to cool off sufficiently to dissipate the large amount of heat in the atmosphere (On earth we drop 40 degrees overnight at STP on a clear still night with low humidity). So dropping 500 degrees would require 1 hour per degree for about 3 weeks or so. This the places a mininum size, but since the initial does not have to move, place it just after dusk and you have months to sunrise to get it rolling you definitely have enough time to cool down say a few acres of turf if you can keep the CO2 out. And initially you don;t need to store the CO2 so simply dump it out of the system. Using lasers however is a problem since the amount of laser power required to wall 96 bar of CO2 to 100km is tremendous. The seed technology is critical, it would require a direct nuclear to electric power generation (solar will not work and there is no established E differential - thats only after the atmosphere has cleared overhead of CO2)

 

 

Mining Venus is insane. Venus was build from roids and space dust, all of which can be found on roids and comets at much lower levels but with much lower dV requirements once ISRU is established, so diving into a hell-hole of a gravity well to bring it back to earth makes no sense.

 

 

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34 minutes ago, PB666 said:

The problem with solar wind would require some sort of ion diversion, which might include channels that the force the plasma through the lense.

I'm not talking about the solar wind (though you'd need to deal with that) ... I'm just talking about the light pressure itself, i.e. from the sunlight that you're diverting to avoid the planet.  There are several million square kilometers of high-intensity sunlight that will need to be diverted so that it doesn't hit the planet.  That right there, all by itself, will cause a strong force on the diverting mechanism.  The act of diverting the sunlight causes a force all by itself, even without taking into account the solar wind.

34 minutes ago, PB666 said:

wall CO2 from a small area, the permit nitrogen into that area

 

Gaseous nitrogen is only 64% as dense as CO2.  A proposed "tunnel of nitrogen" from ground level up to space is going to have a big pressure differential across it, because of the differing densities of the two gases.  Short of having a magical force field, I don't see any realistic way to keep gases segregated.

Even just maintaining a diffusion barrier would be hard enough.  When there's a significant net pressure imbalance between the two sides, it's hopeless.

In any case, it's impossible to stop Venus rotating, anyway.  Cannot be done.

34 minutes ago, PB666 said:

If you are clever, you could  do this:

This one kind of lost me at "cool a big enough chunk of Venus to cause CO2 to settle out enough to give N2 a chance, given that there isn't any physical barrier keeping stuff from mixing."

34 minutes ago, PB666 said:

Mining Venus is insane.

I think we're both in total agreement there.  :)

That said, the spirit of the OP is not "does it make sense" (I don't think anyone's arguing that it does), simply "is it technically possible given current technology, if we had a century to do it and could devote all our resources to doing it."

And I think it's pretty clear that the answer is a resounding "no" to that one, if we're talking about any kind of bulk operation.

If the "mining of unobtainium" only needs something tiny-- e.g. "figure out a way to get a single 100kg rock off the surface, and the rock is just sitting there and all you have to do is pick it up"-- then perhaps a way could be found.  :)

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Wait, so you're saying a positively charged object is still going to react with an acid?  Aren't we changing the reduction potential of exposed metals?

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5 hours ago, Snark said:

Nukes certainly make for a great fireworks show, and they're effective as weapons of destruction... but they're actually not super efficient as propulsion mechanisms.

I think you are mistaking nuclear asteroid destruction with propulsion here. AFAIK explosive nuclear propulsion aka Orion drive is by far most efficient propulsion on current tech level. And yes, it would take centuries. But crazy as it is, it still sounds like most reasonable idea so far. I mean, most other ideas involve transporting HUGE amounts of materiel to Venus. Scooting some nukes around is comparatively easy. Not to mention that mass-producing nukes is well and truly existing technology, with significant stockpile to boot.


 

5 hours ago, Snark said:

No, it really, really doesn't.  Planets are incredibly hard to move.  The numbers are just ludicrous.  Bear in mind that the total mass of all asteroids in the solar system is much less than a thousandth the mass of Venus...

Well, I never said it's meant to be easy, no.  I read this idea as part of serious thinking about terraforming Venus - move it farther away from sun by blasting away parts of its surface. Like, a lot. Original idea used nukes, but (carefuly executed) impacts should work just as well. Of course, there is this small things about affecting orbits of other planets, but hey - OP wants his unobtainium no matter what :-P

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As far as I know, the atmosphere at the surface of Venus is mostly supercritical CO2. The clouds of HsSO4 are much higher in the atmosphere.

Even with current technology, getting something from the surface is just an engineering and economic problem.

The pressure is bad, but we can deal with it. 90 bar isn't insurmountable. The temperature is also a problem, but active cooling can deal with this. Under Venusian conditions, a heat pump to refrigerate to room temperature would have a maximum theoretical COP of about 0.5, which isn't great. A real-world system would probably max out at around 0.3. Meanwhile, a thermal power plant, most likely a gas turbine with a nuclear fission reactor as the heat source, would have a Carnot efficiency of up to about 50%, and an actual efficiency of about 30% as well. So about 10% of the energy generated from the fuel is going to go into actively cooling the mining vehicle.

For mechanical simplicity, I would avoid anything wheeled, and go with a low-altitude dirigible. It can drift around lazily in the slow-moving currents near the surface until it finds what it's looking for, scoop it up, and send it into the upper atmosphere by balloon. If whatever Maguffin we're after can't just be picked up, but needs to be mined or refined, again I'd go for simplicity. Massive explosive charge, blow the ore seam to rubble, then send up chunks of rubble.

Once in the upper atmosphere, the balloons are collected by an autonomous floating station with ISRU for fuel and prefabricated empty launch vehicles to send them back to earth, or to an orbiting station, wherever they are needed.

The technology to do this does exist, or could be developed without any groundbreaking discoveries. However it would never even be close to economical for anything short of pure antimatter or something.

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51 minutes ago, radonek said:

serious thinking about terraforming Venus - move it farther away from sun by blasting away parts of its surface. Like, a lot. Original idea used nukes, but (carefuly executed) impacts should work just as well. Of course, there is this small things about affecting orbits of other planets, but hey - OP wants his unobtainium no matter what :-P

Terraforming a planet, in situ, is hugely difficult but in principle doable, if you're willing to devote staggering resources to it and take centuries if not millenia.

Moving a planet, however, is simply out of the question.  Cannot be done.  You could use every ounce of fissile material in the solar system and it wouldn't be enough to budge it noticeably.  Ditto slamming every single asteroid in the solar system into it.

The numbers simply don't work.  There are just way too many orders of magnitude at play, here.

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High pressure, temperature and low pH are within our capabilities to handle.  Assuming you survey a sesource rich area, I think strip mining may be in order.  I also like using robust, tethered balloons and turbines for energy.

I am still unclear why charging our devices positively while allowing some disposable metal to oxidize away wouldn't increase the lifespan of our expensive stuff in a charged shell.  What fundamental aspect of chemistry have I forgotten?

We used to do something similar with fences on farms.

As an aside to this, I have discovered that most fellow homesteaders have forgotten about using a rust wire to preserve a fence (sacrificial anode).

Edited by Jonfliesgoats

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We use them on marine outboard engines. A big lump of (I think) zinc bolted onto the bottom just below the prop. We had one come loose and fall off, and were amazed at how quickly the engine attached to it rusted into complete uselessness before anybody noticed.

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4 hours ago, Jonfliesgoats said:

I am still unclear why charging our devices positively while allowing some disposable metal to oxidize away wouldn't increase the lifespan of our expensive stuff in a charged shell.  What fundamental aspect of chemistry have I forgotten?

We used to do something similar with fences on farms.

As an aside to this, I have discovered that most fellow homesteaders have forgotten about using a rust wire to preserve a fence (sacrificial anode).

Heh, was wondering how long until someone mentioned sacrificial anodes.  :) Won't work, it's irrelevant in these circumstances.

Sacrificial anodes are for protecting against one very specific type of corrosion.  It's really good at it, but it's useless for anything else (and, in particular, would be useless and irrelevant on Venus).

Technical explanation of the "why" in a spoiler, for anyone interested.

Spoiler

What a sacrificial anode is good for is when you have the case of,

  1. you have some construction that has two metals on it, and
  2. the two metals are in electrical (i.e. direct physical) contact with each other, and
  3. the two metals have different chemical electropotential from each other, and
  4. they're immersed in an aqueous medium that can conduct electricity via ion transport (e.g. water).

The above circumstances will cause a specific type of corrosion to occur:  basically, having the two metals in electrical contact with each other, at different electropotentials, sets up a simple (if unintentional) battery that causes a tiny electrical current to flow in a loop, from metal A, to metal B, through the ionic medium (e.g. water), and back to metal A again.  One metal is the cathode, the other's the anode.  When this happens, ions are deposited as atoms on the cathode (this is how electroplating works), and atoms are stripped away from the anode and turned into aqueous ions.  Since the anode's losing atoms, it corrodes.

What this describes, fairly precisely, is a lot of boats, which is why sacrificial anodes are so popular and effective there.  The boat will generally have a lot of different components in contact with the water, many of which are metal, of different types.  When that happens, the metal with the highest positive electrochemical potential will corrode.  So you prevent that by sticking on a lump of some even-higher electropotential, so that that's the guy who gets the short end of the stick.  Given the metals commonly used in various construction (e.g. steel, copper, etc.), I believe zinc is commonly used as the anodes.

 

In short:  Sacrificial anodes are good at stopping the specific corrosion that happens when you happen to have a setup that accidentally creates a galvanic electrical cell.  Venus doesn't have those conditions, at all.  The reason for corrosion has nothing to do with galvanic currents (goodness knows there's sure as heck no aqueous solution around!); it's a simple chemical attack.  Therefore a sacrificial anode won't help you.

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Well, as I can see, after Snark's Not-so-Late Heavy Bombardment, the mushrooms gathering is the only survivor.

(Or, instead of nukes, occupying an asteroid and sending icebergs from it into Venus, powered by solar panels + steam boiler)

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People freak out too much about the Venusian surface. Pressure: absolutely a non issue. We handle many times that pressure every day. Ever heard of submarines?

Acid: again, non issue either on the surface or even if you were hanging out in the clouds. Sulfuric acid is the most produced chemical on earth. Yeah, iron doesn't like it, but we have plenty of ways to deal with acid. High temperature acid resistant coatings are a budget away from reality. We can already rust proof things with graphene coatings, it's just expensive. 

Temperature: this is the real problem, but not as bad as people think. Lead is really low melting, so the whole "melting lead" thing sounds cool but it means nothing for most alloys. Steel will handle it just fine, though it may warp a bit over time so you'll need occasional replacements. What this does mean is you'll need some kind of way to keep your smart sections cool, but you can have those in a well insolated and actively cooled section.

Wind speed: also non issue, though storms may be a problem at certain latitudes. You will be floating along with the wind at high altitude, from your frame of reference you won't be moving at all. It will be possible to air launch to orbit, that's not much of a problem. Real issue there is fuel, Venus has very little hydrogen which is a key ingredient in all our chemical fuels (kerosene is, in terms of molar ratios, mostly hydrogen). So you'll have to bring in the hydrogen from elsewhere, already started a thread on that one and the conclusion was near Venus asteroids as the best source. And at the surface the wind is a slow breeze. The mass of the atmosphere may require some anchoring to avoid drift, but the wind is actually slow enough to cause issues with wind power (hence the need for a kite system, already being developed by Google for earth applications).

My suggested system: airship with good sensors aimed at the surface looks for concentrations of unobtanium. Lander deployed that is little more than a back hoe that scrapes the surface. May come with its own drill, or you could drop some earthquake bombs like we used in WWII to loosen up material. It dumps material into a bucket that floats up to the atmosphere where it is refined, and launched to orbit. 

Other idea for the lander: it has a tank of liquid water. The liquid is used as a coolant, in a system designed so that once the liquid boils it exhausts into a piston. The piston generates energy for the lander, which is anchored to the ground. Once the piston is full, it has enough buoyancy it lift itself to the upper atmosphere. Water will condense, so the lander will need to be caught by another airship that never lands. It takes the ore to the refinery, the piston has reset itself and goes back down to the surface e for more material. Only the bucket of ore need float up, so the piston will reattach itself to the lander base and continue mining.

 

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1 hour ago, todofwar said:

We can already rust proof things with graphene coatings

I like the idea of monstrous coal-dark zeppelines silently barraging in a blurry sky of the Venus. :cool:
But fluorine plastics are still in order. Snow-white silently barraging zeppelins are nice, too.

1 hour ago, todofwar said:

Temperature: this is the real problem, but not as bad as people think. Lead is really low melting, so the whole "melting lead" thing sounds cool but it means nothing for most alloys. Steel will handle it just fine, though it may warp a bit over time so you'll need occasional replacements.

Also I'm fond of steel-only electronics, with no solder, plastic, chips and so on. Good old dieselpunk automatons with honest gear-wheels ilogic nstead of pathetic microchips. :wink:

1 hour ago, todofwar said:

What this does mean is you'll need some kind of way to keep your smart sections cool, but you can have those in a well insolated and actively cooled section

When the whole drilling machine is several dozen tons (?), its heat capacity would be overflown in several hours.
Any cooling system must evacuate the waste heat into outer world.

1 hour ago, todofwar said:

Wind speed: also non issue, though storms may be a problem at certain latitudes. You will be floating along with the wind at high altitude, from your frame of reference you won't be moving at all.

Not absolutely at all. The greater is wind speed - the greater are its local turbulences. So, the crew would still have green faces (not Kerbal) with popped out eyeballs (still not Kerbal, though looks similar) , just without expressed flow direction.

1 hour ago, todofwar said:

o you'll have to bring in the hydrogen from elsewhere

-270° cryogenic LH2 inside .500° atmosphere, with its extremely low density would mean ~800 K temperature difference between fiery hell and superfrosty hell, separated only with several centimeters of insulation.
The hydrogen would finish very quickly.

1 hour ago, todofwar said:

Lander deployed that is little more than a back hoe that scrapes the surface. May come with its own drill, or you could drop some earthquake bombs like we used in WWII to loosen up material. It dumps material into a bucket that floats up to the atmosphere

.To float up it should be either a rocket, or a balloon.
The first would return 1 kg of payload per 1 t jf the lander's mass. The second would melt before inflate.
Perhaps, combining the said lander and earthquaker into a big nuke solves all these problems. The cargo delivers itself, as a cloud.

1 hour ago, todofwar said:

Other idea for the lander: it has a tank of liquid water. The liquid is used as a coolant

This Russel's teapot should reach the near-Sun orbit in several minutes after its landing.

Edited by kerbiloid

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5 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

The first would return 1 kg of payload per 1 t jf the lander's mass. The second would melt before inflate.

You can have a high temp metal balloon, the only needed is that the total density is lower than the atmospheric one, you can use as lifting gas nitrogen from the atmosphere.

 

And for energy, in venus surface you go full nuclear, is the most logic way. You want a fuel with a huge energy density not fast disposing nonrenewable fuel.

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14 minutes ago, kunok said:

You can have a high temp metal balloon, the only needed is that the total density is lower than the atmospheric one, you can use as lifting gas nitrogen from the atmosphere.

With 1 kg of cargo per 1 t of balloon?

1 kg of hydrogen in the Earth atmosphere, in zero-weight balloon, can lift 15 kg.

Edited by kerbiloid

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The biggest problem for me is this:

With a 500° atmospheric temperature, how do you keep all of your equipment cool for any length of time?

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6 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

With 1 kg of cargo per 1 t of balloon?

1 kg of hydrogen in the Earth atmosphere, in zero-weight balloon, can lift 15 kg.

Bad quoting, I was pointing only to "the second will melt before inflate"

@Steelyou don't, you use high temp equipment, maybe you cool down a little electronic control center, but that's all.

500ºC isn't that big

Edited by kunok

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4 minutes ago, kunok said:

Bad quoting, I was pointing only to "the second will melt before inflate"

@Steelyou don't, you use high temp equipment, maybe you cool down a little electronic control center, but that's all.

500ºC isn't that big

500°C is huge for one very important thing: electronics. Even high temperature electronics for oil wells and other  "hostile environments" tend to max out before or around 300°C.

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Just now, Steel said:

500°C is huge for one very important thing: electronics. Even high temperature electronics for oil wells and other  "hostile environments" tend to max out before or around 300°C.

You are basically getting dirt, or breaking rocks and getting ore, and after that opening a valve so the "balloon" gets filled with nitrogen and lifts to the skies where is a floating processing plant. I'm not really an expert of anything of that, but doesn't really seem too complicated to be done with a mechanical automat
And anyway we as civilization, not for venus really but for industrial purposes, should develop silicon carbide based electronics that should withstand 600ºC, and maybe even bigger temp electronics (also not my field, maybe there are better options).

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21 minutes ago, kunok said:

should develop silicon carbide based electronics that should withstand 600ºC

The higher is the temperature - the higher is noise. Not exactly the electronics meltdown, but just an electric and acoustic noise which can just make this electronics useless, while still solid. An overclocking inside out.

Also there is mechanics. It has moving parts. The higher is the temperature - the dryer is hinge, the greater swell the piston and the cylinder, the more crystal dislocations in their bodies (just because of temperature, not because of stress), causing random deformations.

Edited by kerbiloid

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