Mars gets all the love. When you hear somebody, whether a scientist or a civilian, talking about another planet in the Solar System, invariably they’re talking about Mars. Mars used to have water. Mars might have life. Mars Mars Mars. Enough, I say!
That probably needs some qualification. Obviously Mars is nearby, it has a 24-hour day, and it’s thoroughly habitable by the standards of, say, Mercury. It should hardly come as a surprise, then, that there have been a lot of scientific missions to Mars, and additional ones are being planned. It’ll be the first planet in the Solar System other than Earth to have a human presence.
However, that doesn’t excuse the favoritism that it gets in fiction. In fact, Mars has a lot of disadvantages for certain activities: it’s farther from the Earth than Venus (on average), it gets about a fifth of the solar energy that Venus does, and it would very likely require more energy to terraform, since it has no atmosphere or active geology. So really, where’ the love for Venus?
That’s what I asked. So rather than Mars, in my setting Venus is one of the major hot-spots for outer space industry. The huge quantities of free power to be had from the Sun allows certain energy-intensive activities like ore refining and heavy manufacturing to be done at substantially decreased cost compared to elsewhere in the Solar System. Naturally you can’t have these facilities on the surface, but who cares? Building in orbit is much cheaper if the manufactured goods are going to be sent elsewhere anyway, and there’s certainly no market for, say, computers on Venus.
If you’re interested, here a few of the other aspects of Venus that I’ve established for my setting. I’ve done some research, but if I’ve gotten any science wrong by all means let me know.
Venus, along with Mars and the Earth, is the industrial center of the Solar System, and unlike those other two planets, Venus’ industry is growing rapidly. One of the man-made wonders of the Solar System is the combination powersat/shades, which are being used to slowly terraform the planet and also provide a huge fraction of the non-fusion power being generated in the inner system.
These powersats provide power via microwaves to the orbiting shipyards. In decades past, most space construction was done in Earth orbit for obvious reasons. However, in the last 30 years, there has been a concerted effort to migrate such construction toward Venus in order to take advantage of all the free solar power. Since steady supplies of refined materials are streaming inward from the belt for processing, the distance question isn’t particularly important, and the delta-v question is similarly non-pressing given the abundance of 3He fuel.
The major shipyards tend to produce ships in models for optimum cost-efficiency, and many dissimilar models have similar requirements as far as basic modules are concerned. Because of the ease of manufacturing and assembling modules, they remain an important part of the shipbuilding industry.
And so there you have it. In my setting, it’s Venus, not Mars, that’s the future of humans in space. Of course there are large colonies on Mars and the moons of Jupiter as well, but Venus is a vital part of the future economy of The Atlas Question.