Earth Wasn’t Always the Solar System’s Only Habitable Planet


  • The Romantic Venus We Never Knew - Issue 43: Heroes

    On the day that I was born—winter solstice, 1959—a headline in Life magazine proclaimed “Target Venus: There May be Life There!” It told of how scientists rode a balloon to an altitude of 80,000 feet to make telescope observations of Venus’s atmosphere, and how their discovery of water raised hopes that there could be living things there. As a kid I thrilled to tales of undersea adventure with telepathic Venusian frogs in Isaac Asimov’s juvenile science-fiction novel Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus. In 1975, when I was 15, a family friend—a planetary scientist—gave me a picture of the first-ever photograph taken from the surface of another planet: Venus. The Soviet Venera 9 probe had sent back a black-and-white image of a landscape with angular rocks and fine-grained dirt. A bright patch (...)