Scientists Crush the Terraforming Mars Dream But Elon Musk Is Hopeful

It is going to take a while if we (and the next-next generations) still plan to make Mars habitable. In the best-case scenario, scientists are now debating that if they could somehow release enough carbon dioxide into the thin Martian atmosphere, it could make it thick enough to support life on the planet’s surface. Mars would become like Earth.

Not With This Technology

But research sponsored by NASA shows that this scenario should belong to a science fiction movie. Bruce Jakosky is a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado (Boulder), explaining in a statement the following:

“Our results suggest that there is not enough CO2 remaining on Mars to provide significant greenhouse warming were the gas to be put into the atmosphere. In addition, most of the CO2 gas is not accessible and could not be readily mobilised. As a result, terraforming Mars is not possible using present-day technology.”

We will get to Mars one day, but living there are relying on the planet’s habitat is out of the question. We will have to build a particular habitat with proper atmospheric pressure, with oxygen, a stable temperature, and shade from the deadly UV light.

Elon Musk suggests we drop a thermonuclear device on the planet and heat it up to release the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but scientists explain why it will not work.

Bill Steigerwald and Nancy Jones (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center – Maryland, US) explain that Mars did have water at a point in time and that the Martian climate supported liquid water on the surface of the planet, “but solar radiation and solar wind can remove both water vapour and CO2 from the Martian atmosphere.”

The also explain that once solar radiation and solar wind wipe the water and CO2 from Mars’ atmosphere, they are gone forever, and this means a whole new challenge:

“Even if this loss were prevented somehow, allowing the atmosphere to build up slowly from outgassing by geologic activity, current outgassing is extremely low; it would take about 10 million years just to double Mars’ current atmosphere,” added Steigerwald and Jones.