Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Goddess on the mountaintop

Tonight we're watching the skies as the Venus Express begins to send back the findings from its destination, which it reached yesterday.

We already know, of course, that Venus is nothing like Perelandra as imagined by C S Lewis, or some other science fiction visions of the planet, which foresaw a habitable world beneath the cloud, where the sun coming was a once in a lifetime experience.... (insert Scotland gag here)

Some of the wilder speculation in anticipation of the probe's findings is whether the planets acid clouds may in fact harbour some kind of life; what's more certain is that the planet's current state is the result of a runaway greenhouse effect.

The fact that we can already see the early impact of this effect on our own planet means that as we learn more about Venus, we sf writers can better extrapolate a grim future for Earth, and create near-Venusian conditions in familiar locations (even, if you like, Scotland).

ESA Venus Express page
Mission guide from the BBC
Latest news from the BBC
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