Everyone loves Mars. Many scientists and space nerds and geeks believe that the Red Planet–about two-hundred and forty-nine million miles away from Earth on the opposite scale–is humanity’s next destination. But is the world also the last card to keep humanity up and running in the next million years?
For two scientists who advise NASA–the American space agency–terraforming Mars, or the process of making it more Earth-like and livable to humans, is a way to teach us a lesson about being an ‘earthling’, and keep our civilization intact.
As revived by the article at STUFF, Robert Zubrin and Christopher McKay have been discussing and exploring the idea of terraforming our neighbor planet. In 2010, they talked about the process and offered visual concepts for the path to making Mars friendlier to living creatures from Earth.
For the National Geographic Magazine, planetary scientists Zubrin and McKay, among others, offered thoughts about the thousand-year project timeline for terraforming Mars.
In year zero, or the start of the phase one, humans would explore the planet for eighteen months. And each crew visiting Mars in six-month cycle would add the so-called ‘small habitation module’ to the main base.
One-hundred years after that, an atmosphere for Mars could be made by releasing carbon dioxide now frozen in dirt and polar ice caps. The necessary heat could be delivered by factories’ releasing greenhouse gases, and even a technologically advanced space mirror’s focusing light from the Sun on the ice caps of the said planet.
In the same proposed timeline, after two-hundred years, rain would start to fall down and the surface of Mars would become wet again, said the article, once enough CO2 had been released to raise the atmospheric pressure and warm the planet. At the same time, scientists there could start working with microbes, algae and lichens that would ‘tame’ the desert rocks.
After six-hundred years, scientists would start planting and gardening on the once-red-planet after the microbes had created organic soil, and added some oxygen to the atmosphere.
And finally after nine-hundred to a thousand years, Martians, or the scientists and other people in there, would start producing energy for their cities. Then, martians would only go out with a ‘scuba gear’ as oxygen would remain low for millennia.
McKay said people would live on Mars the way they live in Antarctica. It will, however, teach us a lesson on managing the limited Earth better. Meanwhile, Robert Zubrin still dream of cities on Mars because civilization, he said, “cannot thrive without limitless expansion.”
Are we on phase one?
NASA has Curiosity and other tech amalgams already on Mars. Recently, the space agency has introduced the next rover with advanced technology that will join the space mission in 2020.
In a statement for the press, NASA’s acting associate administrator Geoffrey Yoder said the Mars 2020 rover is a “first step” in the potential multi-purpose campaign to carefully return selected and sealed martian rocks and soil to Earth. It also marks a significant milestone in the space agency’s Journey to Mars project, he said, which will determine whether life has ever existed on the Red Planet. It is also for the advancement of planned first manned mission to Mars.
Furthermore, two years before the 2020 mission, NASA is also planning to launch a stationary Mars lander. It is called the InSight lander which, according to SPACE, is for studying the interior of Mars.
So, are we already on the verge of entering the phase one? You decide.