We did a little more brainstorming and investigation about Venus last night. The back-story we are working with is as follows:
The cities on Mars now lay in ruin – as abandoned as they were unsustainable. The lack of economic self-sufficiency was exacerbated by the inability to terraform the planet.
Rewind to when Mars was in its heyday – we looked to Venus for the abundance of an otherwise rare isotope (36) of Argon which was crucial in controlling the fledgling fusion technology of the period. “Air” as we know it is buoyant at 50km above the Venetian surface where the atmospheric pressure is almost identical to sea level on Earth.
Large, floating mines were created to extract the isotope in the atmosphere and shipped to orbiting facilities for transport back to Earth. The conditions in which these mines operate make one shudder: noxious gases, acid rain, violent convective activity, and volcanic ash plumes for starters.
Protection from solar radiation was a constant battle as the planet similar problems with core rotation that we encountered on Mars. Even the Argon-36 was radioactive.