|Would we be able to breathe on Venus? |
|Question Date: 2019-03-07|
The atmosphere of Venus is primarily composed
of carbon dioxide, which is toxic to breathe for
humans. In addition to this, the
temperature at the surface of Venus is about
450°C so it would be way too hot for human
life. To top it all off, the surface
pressure is about 90 atmospheres, or 90 times the
pressure on the surface of Earth. So, it would
be very unlikely for humans to survive for very
long on Venus.
We can breathe on Earth because our bodies are
used to the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere
(there is about 21% oxygen in our atmosphere).
Venus has an atmosphere with 96.5% carbon
dioxide, 3.5% nitrogen, and traces of other
gases. Since Venus does not have the oxygen
we need, we would not be able to breathe there
unless we bring our own oxygen tanks.
Unfortunately we would not be able to breathe
on Venus. Humans need oxygen to live, but
the atmosphere on Venus is made up of carbon
dioxide and thick clouds of sulfuric acid.
Even if we wore oxygen masks, the temperature
on Venus is way too hot for us to live on it.
The surface of the planet is about 870 degrees
Fahrenheit, enough to melt lead! Venus’ gravity is
91% of Earth’s, so you would be able to jump a
little higher and objects would feel lighter.
However, the atmosphere is so thick that moving
around would feel like you’re in water.
Atmospheric pressure on earth is about 14.5
pounds per square inch, which is called a “bar”.
On Earth the pressure is 1 bar, but on Venus
it’s 92 bars, so it would probably crush us
instantly! In conclusion, we would not be
able to live on Venus because we couldn’t breathe
the air, it would be too hot, and the air
pressure would be too heavy.
atmosphere on Venus is very different
from that of Earth. The composition is ~96.5
vol% CO2 and ~3.5 vol% N2
(vs. Earth's 78% N2, 21% O2,
and 1% trace other gases). It has a temperature of
around 900°F (480°C), compared to about -129 to
140°F (-89 to 58°C) on
Earth, and the pressure (at
ground level) is around 1300 psi (900
N/m2), which is 90 times that of Earth.
Surviving by breathing this atmosphere would be
problematic for a few reasons. First, the
composition. While there would be nothing wrong
with the mechanical
processes of breathing a gas of the
composition of Venus' atmosphere, most living
anaerobes excluded) require oxygen for
cellular respiration to release the energy
stored in food. Because the Venusian atmosphere
contains negligible oxygen, breathing only
this gas would cause cellular function to cease
and death would occur within a few minutes.
Next is temperature. Using the results of
this study as a guide, the temperature would
cause damaging burns after fractions of a
temperature is also roughly the same as that
reached during the
pyrolytic cleaning cycle of a common home
oven, so it is safe to say that exposure for too
long would be fatal. (
Pyrolysis is basically the process of
burning off everything that isn't carbon. The
cleaning cycle heats up enough that the non-carbon
elements in cooking residues (grease (i.e., fat),
sugars, etc.) are separated and a carbon powder
The pressure of the atmosphere poses a number of
issues. Assuming "on Venus" to mean standing on
the surface of the planet, then the sheer weight
of the atmosphere would crush an unprotected
human: at more than 1300 lbs per inch, the
weight from the air would be far greater than any
human could withstand. Even the tank-like craft of
Venera missions survived
for minutes to a few hours at most. If one
were to suddenly appear on
the surface in some sort of armored suit but with
lungs full of Earth's 14.7 psi air and inhale, the
pressure difference (inside the chest cavity vs.
outside) would result in a force of more than
20,000 pounds exerted on the rib cage, greater
than what bone can withstand (but not
by that much
apparently). If the pressure inside and outside
were increased slowly to prevent such a large
difference, breathing would be possible -
regulators do this for deep-sea divers,
thereby allowing them to breathe under the
pressure of several atmospheres. At such high
pressures, gases from whatever atmosphere is being
breathed become concentrated in the bloodstream
Henry's Law ) and can cause a
issues, even for gas with a composition like
No. Venus' atmosphere is made of nitrogen, carbon
dioxide, and sulfuric acid, none of which are
Nope - the atmosphere would be quite
deadly. We wouldn't be able to breathe on any
planets except Earth, or on any of the moons.
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