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Terraforming

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Yuri_Armstrong

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This idea is often used in science fiction to make exploring places like Mars easier for the protagonists. But is there any chance of this working in real life? Economics and politics aside, is it physically possible to transform a planet like Mars to a more Earth like world?

In The sands of Mars Arthur C. Clarke proposes a Meson resonance reaction which has recently been discovered. He uses this to ignite Phobos as a sort of sun to provide heat and earth-like conditions for Mars. Could that be done as well?
 
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neilsox

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My guess is we can not ignite Phobos, Demos, nor any similar body, nor can we terraform Mars in this century, as it is presently much too expensive and the methods presently know have not been tested. Perhaps in the next century we can build huge mirrors which double the amount of sunlight falling on Mars. This would increase the average temperature by about 30 degrees c. Perhaps 20 degrees c = 68 f. This might expand the atmosphere to about half of Earth's air pressure, but there would still be negligible free oxygen. A simple face mask instead of a space suit would then be practical, unless the dust is dangerous. Agriculture would then be practical as some green plants can thrive without oxygen. These would very slowly add oxygen to the atmosphere/ perhaps a million years to get the oxygen to 1% as the soil = regolith would likely absorb most of the oxygen for the first few million years. Investors won't be interested in a million year payback, so we may never terraform Mars unless a profitable project becomes likely a few years after we start terraforming. Neil
 
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Technetium

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Studies and tests have been done on earth and proven successful. (Although I can't find the post from Science Mag which I read) I did manage to find this report of it.

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2 ... ns-methods

A volcanic island was turned into an exotic island using terraforming.
It also said it could be done on Venus turning the volcanic crust into a more earth like planet which could contain life.

See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terraforming
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terraforming_of_Venus

I guess it would take a very long time planning but it seems possible!
 
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Gravity_Ray

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Yuri_Armstrong":1o1s6yej said:
This idea is often used in science fiction to make exploring places like Mars easier for the protagonists. But is there any chance of this working in real life? Economics and politics aside, is it physically possible to transform a planet like Mars to a more Earth like world?

In The sands of Mars Arthur C. Clarke proposes a Meson resonance reaction which has recently been discovered. He uses this to ignite Phobos as a sort of sun to provide heat and earth-like conditions for Mars. Could that be done as well?
Terra-forming Mars is not just possible, it’s probable. It’s the destiny of humanity to expand within our solar system (or decline) and Mars is the best Earth analog out there. It will never be Earth since its core is cold and dead; however, with our ingenuity it is more than possible to terra-form Mars. Here is the bad news; it will take more than 3-4 centuries to change the planet enough for humans to be able to walk on the surface of a semi-green planet with just a simple oxygen mask. So unlike those books that seem to truncate the process, or just start after the hard work is done, this is not going to be fast or easy.
 
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neilsox

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Mars is much too cold now, for plants to thrive, and the light level is marginal for photosynthesis. The giant space mirrors require frequent station keeping, which requires refueling as they need to be within a million kilometers of Mars, otherwise most of the energy misses Mars = the beam is too wide. CNT = carbon nano tubes with great spec may get the cost under a trillion dollars, but that is very optimistic, and several trillion dollars seems very unlikely as payback is much too long, likely never for the early investors. Maybe we can start to terraform Mars in 2099. Can we put a giant space mirror at Mars-Demos L1, where less station keeping is required? How about Mars-Phobos L1? Perhaps this is too close and the giant mirrors would shade Mars, reducing the amount of sunlight, by almost as much as the beam of sun light would add to Mars. One expert calculated the optimum distance for sunshades over the poles of Mars, as about 200,000 miles for sunshades with a diameter of about 2000 kilometers, if I recall correctly. Heating the surface to hundreds of degrees c would drive the moisture out of the surface and release some other volatiles. After a few years, the sunshades would deteriorate to a much weaker beam of sunlight. We need to increace the Mars air pressure by at least 50 times for even genetically optimised humans to breath with an oxygen mask, so comet bombardment is also likely necessary. Neil
 
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Agelesslink

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The oxygen on earth was formed as an end product of photosynthesis. if we could make a series of bio-domes on mars and pump the oxygen "waste" out then over time it would seem that we would have a small amount of oxygen and could possibly raise the temperature with the greenhouse effect.
 
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