Can we “geographically transform” Mars?

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2021-08-01 14:47:01

As early as billions of years ago, Mars once had a dense, carbon-rich atmosphere, lakes and oceans made up of liquid water, and possibly even fluffy clouds hovering in the sky. The sun was much smaller than it is now, its light was also weaker, but when solar storms were born, the power was much greater than today. In other words, the solar system is much more habitable today than it was 3 billion years ago. But even so, Mars is still lifeless and lifeless.

Mars’ size is smaller than Earth’s, which means it’s also cooling much faster than Earth – Earth’s core is still molten – constantly rotating iron core still has a strong geomagnetic field, which can deflect solar wind and do not let us affect us.

After Mars cooled, its core became solid and the planet’s magnetic field gradually disappeared. After about 100 million years, the solar wind stripped the atmosphere of Mars. The air pressure on Mars drops to near-vacuum, the ocean on the surface gradually boils and evaporates, and eventually the whole of Mars becomes extremely dry.

Since Mars has been very similar to Earth in history, is it possible for us to restore its previous environment?

After centuries of emitting carbon, we have increased the Earth’s surface temperature by relying on the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide emitted by human activities not only does not affect the penetration of sunlight, but also prevents thermal radiation from escaping to the outside – like covering an invisible blanket on Earth.

The increase in surface temperature increases the rate of evaporation of seawater and diffusion into the atmosphere as water vapor, which further increases the insulation efficiency of this “blanket”, leading to an increase in surface temperature, thus increasing the evaporation rate.

But if the mechanism works on Earth, it could work on Mars as well. We have nothing to do with the Martian atmosphere, since it has completely disappeared into space. But Mars still contains a lot of water ice and solid carbon dioxide at the poles and everywhere on Mars, and it may even have more below the surface.

So we can manage them to raise the temperature of the Martian poles – we can release enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to stimulate the greenhouse effect. Next, we just need to watch for changes, and maybe in a few hundred years the environment on Mars won’t be as harsh as it is now.

But unfortunately, this seemingly simple idea may not work.

First of all, we must first develop technology to heat the poles of Mars. Various solutions have been proposed for this, such as spreading dust in the polar regions (reducing the radiation of sunlight), or placing a giant mirror in space to reflect strong light. to the surface of Mars.

But these ideas all require a leapfrog in existing technology – building huge things like objects in space far beyond our current technological capabilities. Taking the cosmic mirror as an example, we need to mine 200,000 tons of aluminum in space. But so far, our mining volume in space has remained zero.

In addition, the amount of carbon dioxide stored on Mars is not enough to trigger a global warming trend. Currently, the pressure of Mars is only 1% of the pressure of sea level on Earth. Even if all the carbon and water molecules on Mars were released into the atmosphere, Mars’ pressure would only increase by 2% compared to Earth’s.

On this basis, if you want to prevent sweat and oils on your skin from boiling and evaporating at low temperatures, the concentration in Mars’ atmosphere needs to be doubled; and if you want to take off the pressurized space suit, you need to increase it 10 times. As for the question of lack of oxygen, there was no need to mention it.

To deal with the problem of insufficient greenhouse gases on Mars, some have come up with some rather radical plans. Maybe we could build some special plants to release CFCs (a very complex greenhouse gas) to Mars. Or we could bring some ammonia-rich comets from outside the solar system to this planet. Ammonia itself is a “wonderful” greenhouse gas and eventually releases harmless nitrogen molecules. Much of the Earth’s atmosphere is made up of nitrogen.

Assuming that we can overcome the technical challenges of these proposals, there is still one major obstacle to be solved: Mars has no magnetic field. If we could protect every single molecule we release into the Martian atmosphere (which is as difficult as building a pyramid out of sand) everything would look better, otherwise, they would be blown away by the wind. the sun blows away.

Some people have also come up with some other creative solutions. Maybe we can build a giant magnet in space to change the direction the solar wind blows toward Mars. Or you could use a superconductor around Mars to create an “artificial magnetosphere” for Mars.

Of course, these solutions require too high a level of technology and we simply cannot implement them. So, can we transform Mars to make it more habitable? It can only be said that after all, there are possibilities, but not for the present and the near future, these solutions do not violate the fundamental laws of physics. However, it is better not to expect too much.

#geographically #transform #Mars

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