June 15, 2024


Science It Works

Terraforming Mars: Fact or Fiction?

There are many words which have been added to the English language through the influence of works of science fiction. For example, one such known word is robot as it has been dubbed by Isaac Asimov in his short stories concerning robots. Hence, it can be said that sometimes science fiction can actually promote science by opening up new visions for scientists to explore. Almost everyone thought that the science fiction stories created by Jules Verne in the 19th century were considered as entertainment; but now in the 21st century, we know that Jules Verne stories have all become a reality. Terraforming is such a concept, as it can become reality, even though it has been stated as a science fiction term in the past.

One of the most viable candidates for Terraforming is Mars. The reason for this stems from the fact that Mars has an environment which is quite amicable to Terraforming. By definition, Terraforming means transforming the habitat of a planet to a new environment, which is capable of sustaining life unaided. Naturally, this is a very bold prospect, but it can be done by employing the right methods and tools from the beginning.

In the case of Mars, it has an atmosphere with only 0.6 percent density and with almost 99.5 percent of carbon dioxide which dominates the atmosphere. Hence, due to low density of the atmosphere, Mars is cold ranging from -15 degrees Celsius to – 140 degrees Celsius in various parts of the planet. Also due to low atmospheric pressure, it would be impossible for a human to survive without a spacesuit. In addition, the absence of oxygen makes breathing impossible without some gear for life support. Fortunately, all of these can be easily rectified by Terraforming the planet Mars.

The first objective would be to heat the planet’s surface and also to increase its density for survival on the surface. The good news is that both objectives can be carried out with ease by using the same technique. It is essential to increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This can be done by heating the planet’s surface. This would help because of the fact that the planet contains great amounts of carbon dioxide locked in the Martian soil as well as in the polar caps. The carbon dioxide is stored frozen as dry ice on the surface of Mars and by heating it, it would dissolve and become gaseous. This would help in increasing the atmospheric pressure, but more importantly through the greenhouse effect it would also help warm the planet, since the sunlight bouncing off from the surface would not be able to escape with a denser atmosphere with carbon dioxide.

Hence, even though global warming would be dangerous for Earth, it can be the perfect solution for Terraforming Mars. The initial warming can be done by using orbital mirrors to reflect the sunlight on Mars or by using an asteroid to crash to the surface of Mars (its energy would be converted to heat). In a period of 50 years to 100 years, the process can become self sustaining and it would make Mars a habitable planet with a dense atmosphere and a warmer climate that is much more suitable to human life in the future. Hence, slowly and slowly, many things like agriculture on Mars would become feasible and larger colonies on Mars can be formed with time. Then, Mars can become a true stepping stone to the stars for humanity.