Earth is a truly amazing planet. It is neither too hot nor too cold here; Water can exist in all three physical states, especially in the liquid state. Earth is the only planet we know where life originated, and the only planet where we know life like ours could exist.
Over time, we have learned to survive, at least for a short time, in hostile environments (under the sea, in Antarctica or in space). But we are far from being able to live permanently and self-sufficiently anywhere in these places. Another life-friendly planet would be much better, but things look bad there so far.
It is possible that in the next few years we will discover a habitable place in another solar system, which will not help us given the great distances. In our neighborhood we have only Venus and Mars, both of which are quite hostile to life in their own way.
However, this does not mean that humanity has not thought about how to change this situation. Especially when it comes to Mars, science and science fiction have addressed the issue of “terraforming” – long before 1993, when Robert Zubrin and Christopher MacKay published their work entitled “Terformation.” “Technological requirements for terraforming Mars” Published, among others, can be found this formula:
It illustrates the seemingly simple problem that must be solved when rehabilitating Mars: it is too cold there and the atmospheric pressure is too weak for human life to exist there. Both sizes are related, of course. The denser the atmosphere, the more heat that can be stored. The formula relates the solar constant s With atmospheric pressure s And the equilibrium temperature of Mars TBB (i.e. about -60°C). Atmospheric pressure indicates carbon dioxide gas2Which makes up approximately 96 percent of Mars’ thin atmosphere.
Asteroids, huge mirrors and giant greenhouse gas factories
In order to permanently warm Mars, it must be ensured, for example, that carbon dioxide2Which is currently still frozen in large quantities as dry ice at the poles, and is sublimating and increasing atmospheric pressure. There is no shortage of suggestions on how to achieve this. For example, Zubrin and McKay mentioned giant mirrors in Mars’ orbit that direct more sunlight to the surface. Or the targeted impact of asteroids containing a lot of ammonia (a powerful greenhouse gas). Of course, the method we’ve been using on Earth for decades would work too: emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases on Mars. There are lots of other ways. But even if we understood all this in theory (which we do not), in practice there would still be insurmountable problems.
Aside from the fact that redirecting asteroids to Mars, building greenhouse gas factories there, or putting mirrors around it would be a ridiculously large effort, it would take centuries to millennia to achieve a large enough impact. Even if Mars had a thick, warm atmosphere, we still had to make sure we could breathe it — and that Mars wouldn’t lose it again! To do this, the planet would need a magnetic field (the absence of which is why it lost its first atmosphere). Creating a planetary magnetosphere is actually the stuff of science fiction.
So it is not impossible to make Mars habitable. It would be much easier to prevent Earth from becoming hostile to life.
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