Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Practical Considerations of Terraforming Mars

The concept of altering Mars’ environment so that it is habitable for humans, or terraforming, has been subject to a lot of speculative fiction and debate. The idea was first incorporated into Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, The Sands of Mars, in 1951. Since then, the prospect has been explored and tested through numerous studies and is now seen as possibility. A key issue to making this a reality deals with altering Mars’ atmosphere so that it will have sufficient levels of oxygen/ozone. The methods to which this can be achieved, as studied by NASA, seem feasible but still impractical in the long term, particularly in terms of cost. Mars’ atmosphere is mainly composed of carbon dioxide, and oxygen makes up about 0.1% of it(NASA). Mars’ temperature, which is much lower than that of Earth, would also need to be altered in the terraforming process. Terraformation on Mars has been a popular idea, since its environmental characteristics are the closest to Earth’s so far. But, due to the specifics of Mars’ temperature and atmosphere, it is unlikely that life can prosper in those conditions. There are some solutions to terraforming the hostile characteristics of Mars’ environment. For example, creating greenhouse effects with vapor would raise the temperature to a sufficient degree. However, these solutions are not achievable in the long-run. There are other potential solutions, such as genetic engineering, or altering the atmosphere to sustain more oxygen. But for now, all of these ideas are either impractical in the long run or would take way too long to be concluded as effective solutions.


- Haeun Bang