Albeit news of discovering a planet in another solar system always follows excitment, Corey S. Powell of Discover magazine wants to know why Venus, the nearest Earth-like planet we know of, does not get the same level of attention as its distant cousins. Granted Venus is about as hospitable as an oven "set to broil," the mystery remains as to what caused this planet to become "more like hell on almost-Earth."
The ways in which Venus diverged from Earth are as dramatic as they are perplexing. Venus has a crushing atmosphere tinged with sulfuric acid clouds and dominated by carbon dioxide. It has a year-round surface temperature of about 450 degrees Celsius (850 degrees Fahrenheit), far hotter than an oven set to “broil.” It has no appreciable magnetic field to protect it from charged particles that blow out from the sun. It has no plate tectonics to renew its geology. It rotates so slowly that one “day” takes 243 Earth days, and its rotation is backwards compared to that of almost all the other planets. It has no moon.
Meanwhile, Motherboard looks at how blowing up bubbles of polymer in space can be used to build large complex structures, greatly reducing the cost of shipping construction materials in orbit.
The team’s success largely lies in the fact that they put a number of environmental conditions found in space to work in the manufacturing process, such as ultraviolet radiation. The polymer film used to blow the bubble includes a curing agent called benzophenone which makes the bubbles harden when exposed to the sun’s UV rays. Once the bubble is rigid, vaporized metal is sprayed inside, coating the bubble with iron, copper, aluminum, or whatever is needed for the manufacturing process at hand, a dispersal method which is aided by microgravity.
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