Posted on Saturday, July 29, 2017
By Kadri
Inner Solar System

Prospective Energy and Material Resources, edited by Viorel Badescu, Kris Zacny

In Inner Solar System we take a look at Mercury and Venus, what we know about them and how that information was gathered and also at what technologies have been employed for missions there, what could be used in the future and what might the future reasons be for exploring both Venus and Mercury.

The book starts of with the real basics - the physical composition and structure of terrestrial planets and how we know about that. Also the planet formation is discussed in a way that  presents the terrestrial planets as forming early on similarly to giant gas planets with dense metal cores that eventually would lose the extensive atmosphere because of the strong solar wind from the early Sun.

The space missions that have contributed to our knowledge about these planets such as the early Venera, Vega and Pioneer Venus missions, but also later ones such as MESSENGER and Venus Express and others are introduced together with what was learned from those missions. The missions are presented in such a way that you get an idea what kind of modifications were made in next spacecraft because of what was learned.

The book also presents current ideas under development for future spacecraft and what kind of challenges have to be overcome for making them viable for a space mission to Mercury or Venus. You can also find calculations on how long it would take to reach either of the planets with different thrust systems and how much fuel they would require, but also info on power systems.

This book is a fascinating collection of research that has been done to enable future missions to test and sample the surface of Mercury and Venus in a way that hasn't been possible before. Some of the interesting developments that are introduced in the book include drilling at high temperatures and pressures, and comparisons between different sampler systems.

A large part of the book is dedicated to looking at what kind of resources and materials we might find useful on Mercury or Venus that would make venturing there an economical and business enterprise rather than just a scientific undertaking.

The book concludes with chapters on the possibility of terraforming Mercury and Venus and discussion on colonization of those two planets.

This book makes you see Mercury and Venus from a different, slightly utopian, angle, from which it isn't totally crazy to imagine manned missions there.


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