Published on November 15, 2007
Terraforming Mars: Terraforming Mars Wohoo, Star Trek! What is involved?: What is involved? Terraforming process Time Cost Colonization Worth the effort? Future interaction with space Terraforming Process: What needs to be changed?: Terraforming Process: What needs to be changed? Temperature Pressure Oxygen Water Radiation Terraforming Process: Temperature: Terraforming Process: Temperature Currently -60C limitations: must be 0 - 30C Introduction of Greenhouse Gases Orbiting Mirrors (solar sail) melting southern polar cap releasing CO2 (total melt of polar cap results in 70 degree C increase) Anaerobic micro-organisms (bacteria take in CO2 spit out O2 and methane or ammonia) In situ factories (pump out greenhouse gases from air and soil) Decrease albedo (dust or plants) Terraforming Process: Pressure: Terraforming Process: Pressure currently 1% Earth’s sea level - 8 millibars (pressure suits required) Directly related to temperature increased by thickening the atmosphere CO2 from all of South polar cap and the regolith give pressure of 300millibars (1/3 Earth sea level) Greenhouse effect could give a atmospheric pressure of one-eighth to twice that of Earth’s Terraforming Process: Oxygen: Terraforming Process: Oxygen Currently 95% carbon dioxide (Oxygen masks necessary) Photosynthetic plants (CO2 - O2) Genetic engineering Timing (require some O2, water) Photosynthetic micro-organisms (CO2 - O2+) Few tough bacterial species Timing Terraforming Process: Water: Terraforming Process: Water Evidence of liquid water in past, though none present today Heating of the planet should release much water northern polar cap regolith groundwater reserves Terraforming Process: Radiation: Terraforming Process: Radiation Once the atmosphere has been thickened there will be sufficient protection from radiation UV Solar Flares Cosmic Rays Terraforming Methods: initial steps: Terraforming Methods: initial steps Green house effect! Must raise the surface temp by at least 4 degrees to start a run away. in-situ industry greenhouse gases (CFCs or PFCs perfluorides) but requires in situ building and energy! - solar or nuclear Reducing albedo dust/plants Double sun! (mirrors raise temp 5k - s. pole evaporation) The run away would completely evaporate the S. Polar cap in about a decade How long will it take?Decades to millions of years: How long will it take? Decades to millions of years Greenhouse centuries Pressure and Temp few decades to centuries Plants to decrease albedo 100 - 10,000 yrs O2 (photosynthesis) several centuries to 100,000 yrs Melting of South polar cap decade Cost issues: Cost issues Will become more financially feasible as... Technology increases Better ideas More efficient methods Interest increases Government and public support More knowledge accumulated Better accuracy More controlled greenhouse Better prediction of results Colonization!: Colonization! Once the pressure and temperature on Mars has been altered by the terraforming process, it will be much easier for large numbers of explorers to move to Mars to start a colony. Once dome-like residential structures have been made, plants can be grown that will produce acceptable oxygen levels in these enclosed areas. Since planet wide oxygen levels will take a longer time to arrive at Earth-like levels, colonists will require O2 masks for outdoor excursions. Unless we wait until technology has advanced quit a bit, Martian colonies would be on their own to construct a comfortable living environment - minimal interaction with Earth Safety Long term effects of a different environment Government Ecopoiesis (creating a biosphere) Future in Space!: Future in Space! The act of terraforming Mars will automatically increase our interaction with the rest of space. New ideas will have to be explored as we choose the best process of terraforming. Technology advancements specifically geared towards the terraforming project will be used for other exploration projects. If we attempt to terraform Mars, it will either be a total flop (discourage or motivate) or will work nicely (motivate and concentrate our focus).