How Close Are We to Terraforming Mars?
There have been some wild proposals about how to make Mars more suitable for humans-but how close are we to actually terraforming the Red Planet?
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A term originally coined in science fiction, terraforming, in basic terms, is changing the atmosphere and climate of a planet so it can support human life without the need for equipment like spacesuits.
In order to survive on Mars, we would need to be able to do a few basic things: breathe, stay conscious, not freeze to death, and over time grow food.
Right now, if humans were to step outside while on Mars, we’d pass out instantly and die pretty soon after as a result of the low pressure pulling oxygen out of solution in our blood.
Doesn’t sound too habitable, huh?
But if we could find a way to thicken the atmosphere by adding mass to it, the result might be kickstarting a greenhouse effect that would stabilize the temperature, staving off some radiation, too.
To achieve this level of climate alteration, we would need to build hundreds of factories on Mars’ surface…and that is no small task.
But with interest in space exploration and tourism on the rise, we might get the tools and tech we need sooner than we’d imagined.
Find out more about what we would need to do to make Mars habitable for humans and how close we are to terraforming the planet on this episode of How Close Are We?
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As an alternative, what Wordsworth et al. suggest is a kind of localized 'farming' approach. Silica aerogel is extremely low density and porous, but it can also produce a solid-state greenhouse effect because it's fairly opaque to infrared radiation (and doesn't conduct heat well) but is partially transparent to visible and shorter wavelength light.
Climate explained: why Mars is cold despite an atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide
The absence of water makes the temperature on Mars change a lot. The Mars exploration rovers (Spirit at Gusev Crater and Opportunity at Meridiani Planun) experienced temperatures ranging from a few degrees Celsius above zero to minus 80℃ at night: every single Martian day, known as sol.
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