I am doing some research into the nearby rocky bodies Mars, Venus and the Moon with reference to human colonisation.

Are there any specific pieces of information that would be useful to know about the planets? So far, I have most of what I need:

  • Temperature
  • Atmospheric Constitution
  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Gravity
  • Seasons
  • Day and Year length
  • Proximity to Earth at certain times
  • Surface composition (Soil)
  • Topography
  • Major landforms
  • Bodies from space hitting it
  • Surface area
  • Solar radiation/wind.
  • Magnetosphere

Extreme detail is important, so are there any other's I've left out?

note: I am not looking at whether it is possible to colonise these planets right now. That is irrelevant. I just am asking is there any further information I should know if we could theoretically colonise them. I know for places like Venus, it is virtually impossible, but I would appreciate knowing any information that, if it was possible, would be useful.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Terraforming of Venus is impossible, the temperature and pressure at surface are too high by far. Terrakeeping of Earth may be important in future. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Mar 12, 2020 at 22:39
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I think this is too broad for the SE format. If you can narrow this down (say "How would we terraform Venus?") it would be more answerable. Take a moment and read the help center on asking $\endgroup$
    – Machavity
    Mar 12, 2020 at 23:33
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I'm not so sure, I think this question is somewhat answerable, at least in broad brushstrokes. I think the OP has covered most of the main bases, in any case. The main factors would be the ability to retain an O2/H2O atmosphere (tied to gravity and temperature), prior presence of atmosphere, and presence of the raw materials needed to terraform. It doesn't really matter, as there's only two or three Solar System objects you could ever hope to terraform, even with near-infinite resources. $\endgroup$
    – Ingolifs
    Mar 13, 2020 at 0:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Ingolifs I haven't done any voting. I just am not sure what is wanted other than a giant data dump of "here is everything we know about the planets." $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2020 at 0:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I'm touched :-) $\endgroup$
    – Ingolifs
    Mar 13, 2020 at 3:21

2 Answers 2


In addition to solar radiation/wind, cosmic radiation.

Regarding surface conditions (soil) you will need consider:

  • Potential nutrients for plants as well as toxins for plants, humans and other animals – see perchlorates on Mars.
  • Abrasiveness of soils and the fineness of soil particles – see the
    issues for the Apollo moon missions. Any abrasive particles in
    soils will have health implications and will need to be controlled so people do not develop pneumoconiosis, such silicosis, or an equivalent to coal worker's pneumoconiosis.
  • How soil particles will react with oxygen and water: gases that may be produced, oxidation of soil chemicals or minerals. There may be increased wear of mechanical moving parts.
  • The electrical conductivity of dust and how that would affect electrical and electronic equipment.
  • Hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity – whether soils like water or not, for growing plants and possible use of regolith based materials for habitat construction.

Very high localized magnetic anomalies.

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe you mean perchlorates rather than peroxides? $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2020 at 12:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @WaterMolecule: Thank you for notifying me about my error. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Mar 14, 2020 at 12:36
  • Solar illumination (amount, angle)

  • In what form (if any) is water present? How much is available? (Can be used to produce fuel, oxygen for rockets and breathing, irrigating crops, manufacturing, etc.)

  • How easily is the soil mined or bulldozed, to form or to cover habitats?

  • What materials can be derived from surface materials?

  • Are there dust storms, and how do they affect other parameters?

  • Are there subsurface features such as lava tubes which could be utilized as habitats or storage?

  • Many of the parameters (e.g. temperature) mentioned in the question vary with time and location. What are the largest and smallest known extremes? What is the normal seasonal variation of the parameter? How does the parameter vary with latitude and altitude?


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.