8 fabulous holiday destinations on Venus!

a-slice-of-venusIt’s that time of year when those of us who live on islands high in the northern hemisphere are really tired of cold, rainy weather. So why not plan a trip away somewhere? And what better destination than Venus?

Supernova Condensate Travel brings you all the very best advice on solar system vacations and adventure holidays, and we would like to recommend our neighbouring planet of Venus as the perfect travel destination for that little getaway you’ve been planning.

After all, with an average surface temperature of 462°C, the weather on Venus is always hot. What’s more, with an atmospheric water content of just 20 ppm, you’ll never have to cancel any outdoor activities because of rain! Not water rain anyway. But there’s no need to worry about being on a planet with a sky full of lethal sulfuric acid. Venusian acid rain falls only as virga and always evaporates long before it reaches the surface.

Of course, the weather on Venus may be a little cloudy, but with solar irradiance almost twice as high as Earth, it’s never dreary even with the constant cloud cover. Even better, you’ll never need to wear sunscreen! Perfect! Before you pack your bags though, why not have a look at these 8 great places to visit on our nearest neighbouring planet?

1. Baltis Vallis

Just because Venus doesn’t have much water, doesn’t mean it has no rivers! Or river channels anyway. Winding through the grand southern plains of Atalantia Planitia is Baltis Vallis – the longest river channel in the entire solar system! Baltis Vallis stretches out for almost 7000 km (a bit longer than the Nile here on Earth), with an average width of 1-3 km. Click here to see an image highlighting the start and end of a 600 km stretch of it.

baltis-vallis

It’s thought to be an old lava channel, meaning the lava that made it must have been very low viscosity. Carbonatite lava is one possibility. Baltis Vallis is quite old – the original channel was longer, but it’s been disrupted somewhat over time. In fact, parts of the channel we see today appear to flow uphill, suggesting that Venus’ surface has seen some upheaval since the channel was formed.

Thankfully for any travellers, it’s unlikely such upheavals will happen today, as no volcanism or tectonic activity has been observed on Venus. Why not take the Baltis Vallis challenge and attempt to traverse the entire length of the channel?

Please note: Lack of observations of volcanism and tectonic activity do not mean such events do not occur on Venus. Supernova Condensate Travel warns that all visitors to Venus be wary of earthquakes and eruptions at all times.

2. Meitner Crater

meitner-craterMuch like on Earth, impact craters are rare on Venus. A few do exist however, such as Meitner, named after a personal hero of ours here at Supernova Condensate Travel.

A fantastic example of a multiring crater, Meitner sprawls out with a diameter of 149 km. Views from the rings of massifs at the crater’s rim afford spectacular views through the dense venusian atmosphere of the peak ring basin. Even more impressive during the rainy season, with sulfuric acid virga adding to the unique atmosphere of this picturesque spot. Why not explore the splayed layer of ejecta surrounding the crater? Or perhaps climb the central uplift for a great camping spot!

Please note: Camping on Venus may be inadvisable due to extreme weather conditions. Supernova Condensate Travel takes no liability for tents or other camping equipment melting due to extreme heat.

3. Fotla Corona

fotla-corona

One of the many treasures of the planet Venus is the vast number of coronae dotting the surface. A corona is a volcanic feature only found on two worlds in the solar system – Venus, and the Uranian moon Miranda. Formed when hot material wells up underneath the surface of a planet, these huge volcanic crowns make excellent places to go hiking, particularly for those who may not be well suited to hike the more rugged terrain found elsewhere, such as the more challenging Venusian tesserae.

Located in Venus’ Nsomeka Plains, the dramatic Fotla Corona has it all – from smooth plateau regions for gentler hiking to a complex network of fractures for those who enjoy a more challenging route. This fracture network was probably formed as lava (possibly related to the nearby volcanic domes) accumulated within fractures in the planet’s surface, eventually leading to a collapse event which caused some of Venus’ most stark and beautiful terrain.

Please note: Supernova Condensate Travel would like to remind you that hiking on Venus is inadvisable without highly specialised equipment to protect from extremes of heat and pressure. Such equipment may not actually be possible with existing human technology.

4. Maat Mons

maat-monsOf the plentiful volcanoes covering the surface of Venus, Maat Mons is the tallest, affording panoramic views across Aphrodite Terra’s beautiful Atla Regio highlands. Rising 5 km above the surrounding plains. It’s the second highest peak on the planet, high enough that some believe it may be belching out SO₂ and CH₄ through plinian eruptions, accounting for the variations seen in those two gasses in Venus’ middle atmosphere. Tourists considering Maat Mons as a destination may be reassured though, that no active volcanism has been observed here.

The summit of Maat Mons is home to a vast caldera, some 28 by 31 km in size. Nested within it are at least 5 smaller collapse calderas. Additionally, to the southeast, there’s a small chain of additional collapse calderas, around 3–5 km in size. It’s thought that these calderas were created by at least 2 major collapse events in Maat Mons’ history. Luckily for hiking holidays, these events seems to be in the past. Despite searches for evidence of current volcanic acitivity, no eruptions have ever been seen at Maat Mons. Like most of the Venusian volcanoes, Maat Mons is a shield volcano, and is actually very similar in both size and shape to the big island of Hawai’i. Albeit with slightly hotter weather.

5. Siddons Patera

siddons-patera

Many planets in the solar system contain paterae – irregular crater-like surface features caused by volcanic activity – including Io and Mars. But why travel all the way to Io, when Venusian paterae offer such majestic landscapes right on your planetary doorstep?

Siddons Patera is the perfect example of such a location. Located in the North of Venus, conveniently near Ishtar Terra, Siddons Patera is a caldera with much to offer. If you’re a photographer or artist looking to capture the dramatic landscape, the collapsed lava tubes surrounding Siddons Patera offer breathtaking views. They’re also great fun to explore, if you’re planning a family trip! Who knows what exciting adventures may await in the lava tubes which remain structurally intact?

Please note: Traversing uncollapsed Venusian lava tubes is a high risk activity which should not be attempted without expert guidance. Supernova Condensate Travel accepts no liability for any tourists involved in cave-ins or for unexpected volcanic activity.

6. Guinivere Planitia Lowlands

lowlands-guinivere-planitia

There are few more beautiful placesto spend Springtime than the scenic lowlands of Guinivere Planitia. Not that Springtime has much meaning on a planet with only 3° of axial tilt. But, of course, it’s the attitude that counts!

The broad, sweeping lowland plains of Guinivere Planitia are always a sight to behold, with their many scattered pancake domes – a type of geological feature specific to Venus. These broad, volcanic domes tend to be found clustered together in the lowland plains around Venus’ more rugged terrain. Good news for mountain climbers too – Venusian pancake domes may be named after a flat fried foodstuff, but they’re between 10 – 100 times as large as any volcanic dome found on Earth!

7. Skadi Mons

Speaking of mountain climbing, Venus is an excellent destination for it. None of the low gravity on other worlds – with a surface gravity of 8.87 m/s, Venusian gravity is nearly as strong as the gravity back home on Earth, giving a true climbing experience.

In the heart of Ishtar Terra, you’ll find the majestic Maxwell Montes. This mountain range is one of only three features on the entire planet which isn’t named after women. But fear not – Skadi Mons takes her name from the goddess Skaði in Norse mythology. Skaði is a goddess of mountains and skiing. Perfect to give her name to Venus’ highest peak!

Yskadi-monsou might not think there’s much skiing to be done on Venus. After all, surely skiing needs snow? As it happens, Venusian mountains have snow all of their own! Unlike Earth though, this snow isn’t made of water ice. The mountains of Venus are thought to be capped with snow made from heavy metals – bright, shining mountain caps, made from galena and bismuth sulfide, glinting in the afternoon sunlight as it filters through the clouds. Even better because, with such long days on Venus, an afternoon could last for your entire vacation!

Please note: It is uncertain whether or not any kind of skiing can be done using heavy metal sulfide crystals. Supernova Condensate Travel takes no responsibility for any injuries or poisoning acquired while attempting to ski on Venusian snow.

8. Phoebe Regio

One of the first places on the surface of Venus to be seen by human eyes. Or robot eyes, anyway. This was the chosen landing site of the Soviet Venera landers, and they could not have chosen a more scenic spot. While Phoebe Regio may lack the snowcapped mountains or majestic tesserae of other Venusian holiday destinations, it’s not a place to be overlooked. Located in the lowlands, away from Ishtar and Aphrodite Terrae, the craggy terrain of Phoebe Regio is an excellent place to go camping.

Why not throw a party there to celebrate the end of such a successful holiday on scenic Venus? Even better, with a single Venus day lasting the same as over 116 Earth days, an all-night party on Venus is quite an event. There ain’t no party like a Venusian party, because a Venusian party genuinely does not stop for weeks on end!

Please note: 7 Venus days is equivalent to 2.2 years back on Earth. Some confusion may therefore arise if you notify your workplace that you’ll be “only staying for a week.” Supernova Condensate Travel accepts no responsibility for termination of employment based on misunderstandings such as these.

phoebe-regio

Most images are courtesy of NASA/Magellan.
The final image of Venus’ surface is a remastered image created with Soviet Venera pictures by the quite excellent Don P. Mitchell. Image manipulations are created by myself, using clouds from an image by mistagregory/Wikimedia Commons.

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About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
This entry was posted in astronomy, space and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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