Even if the implementation of these ideas is some way off yet, there is now a door open to a different kind of exploration, and the prospects for future generations are tantalising indeed.
A Mountain on Mars is due to be explored by the space agency’s unmanned Curiosity rover, in an attempt to reveal if signs of life ever existed on the red planet, and should read like a great novel, according to NASA.
The radar mapping of Venus by the orbiting Pioneer revealed surface details of areas as small as 60 miles. Because of the extreme temperatures, there is no surface water on Venus. The planet is very smooth, much of it covered by a flat rolling plain; only about 10 percent of the area consists of highlands. The largest upland region is Ishtar Terra, about the same size as Australia. At Ishtar’s eastern end are the Maxwell Montes, the highest mountains on Venus; they rise some seven miles above the surface, higher than Mount Everest.