About this dream of Elon Musk. About this dream in the aerospace Agency NASA. And Arnold Schwarzenegger has managed to do it (though only in the movie). But, is it possible really? We are talking about terraforming Mars – turning the red planet into a blue with the help of geoengineering, which will make its atmosphere more dense, and the environment and the climate more welcoming for people. Unfortunately, according to a new research article which was published in the journal Nature Astronomy, a fantastic dream that dreamed already not one generation of scientists seems destined to remain a dream. At least for the near future.
The idea of terraforming Mars involves the solution of several key tasks, but according to common sense, if they could release the carbon dioxide contained in the earth and filled them with the atmosphere for approximately 100 years, Mars could become quite a place suitable for supporting extraterrestrial life. Scientists say that they know how to heat the planet, because we do the same now with the Earth. However, according to a recent study, for Mars it sounds too good to be true.
“Our study shows that Mars remained insufficient inventory quantity of carbon dioxide required to start the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere,” says planetary scientist Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado in boulder.
“Moreover, much of the existing inventory of CO2 on the planet are not. We believe that terraforming Mars is impossible. At least using the current technology.”
In recent years scientists have repeatedly spoken about the prospects of terraforming Mars, but the study Jakosky and his colleagues Christopher Edwards from Northern Arizona University is based on data collected by various orbiting spacecraft, and not on computer models. The researchers used for their work information obtained by orbiters such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Odyssey, MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution — “Evolution of the atmosphere and the volatiles on Mars”).
Mars has a very thin atmosphere and as a consequence of the lack of atmospheric pressure. In General, this means that any stocks of liquid water on the surface of the planet for a long time will not stay there. The water is either completely evaporated or freeze. According to the idea of terraforming, if somehow the transfer is available in the polar caps of Mars carbon in a gaseous state (in the manner of the hero of Arnie from the movie “total Recall”), it would increase the atmospheric pressure on the red planet two times. But unlike those effects that were shown in the film, in reality, increasing atmospheric pressure on Mars is two times would not be sufficient in order to recreate terrestrial conditions.
Akowski notes that with increasing pressure on the planet’s surface to 1 bar and the temperature on Mars would be just above 0 degrees Celsius. The water would in this case not frozen, and the whole planet would really inhabited. The atmosphere itself is not fit for breathing, but people could wear a special breathing mask, not inside the fully enclosed suits. On the planet would have no problems growing plants, slowly increasing the level of oxygen in the atmosphere in the next few centuries. But while this is all a fairy tale.
“This does not mean that the terraforming in itself impossible. Just do it is not so easy, as many now present,” commented Jacoski the portal New Scientist.
“We can’t just go and blow up a few nukes over the ice caps of the planet and get what you want”.
On the planet there are also other sources of carbon. This element is present in soil and in mineral deposits, however, according to the calculations of researchers, Mars has an insufficient amount of natural resources in order to transform the planet’s atmosphere in moderate, humid greenhouse.
According to the latest assumptions, greater carbon stock can be located deep beneath the planet’s surface. However, scientists currently lack sufficient data set that could confirm this assumption. And even if we could confirm this, it is possible to reach these reserves, we still couldn’t.
“We guess that there is something there. Traces of carbon were detected in several impact craters on the planet. But we do not know exactly how much there carbon. Moreover, even in the case of large stocks, access to them is not possible”, — says Jakosky.
And yet scientists continue to hope. Researchers believe that if not in the coming years, for several decades, technological evolution, and the subsequent colonization of Mars will allow us to get to the level where implementation of plans for terraforming the red planet will be possible.
“We can still terraform Mars. We could create on the planet artificial sources of highly active greenhouse gases, such as chlorofluorocarbons. They would be able to heat the planet. But this will require a higher technology level than the one we have now. This goes much further than our current possibilities. If this is done, it is clearly not in the near future,” the researchers note.