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Terraforming Mars- Fantasy meets Reality

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posted on Mar, 25 2006 @ 09:36 PM
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I as well as countless other people have most likely heard of the theories regarding a colonization of our red planet neighbor through the process of terraforming.

Terraforming is a theorized process in which we would be able to modify a planet's properties in order to make it more habitable, with the hopes that it can then sustain life. This would include things ranging from modification of the atmosphere to temperature, climate, surface etc.

Let's first consider what we know about Mars so far. Mars contains a surface area approximately equal to that of Earth's dry land area. Temperatures on Mars can range from -130°C to 20°C with an average temperature of around -63°C. The atmosphere is made up of 95% C02.

Two ice caps can be found at both poles and contain large amounts of water ice. Mars also has a thin atmosphere which has been one of the bigger problems, and although it does support a greenhouse effect it is barely noticable.

I doubt that this will be something that can be achieved this century, and probably not even in the next two centuries after that. The problems I see with terraforming Mars stem from the basics we have here on Earth that Mars doesn't. Earth has it's own natural process, in which we have photosynthetic plants and organisms, active geological terrain, abundance of Oxygen and Water...all things that Mars lacks.

So the question is, can Mars be sucessfully terraformed, and if so how would we go about doing it (mirrors, polluting factories, aerobic bacteria etc) and how long would it take. I think it would take another three centuries, let's hear your opinions...




posted on Mar, 25 2006 @ 10:07 PM
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This following is a work of speculation based primarily on science fiction.
The way I would go about it is like this. First when we start colonizing Mars, we should develop a plan to cover the entire surface with interlocking Mushroom shaped buildings. Thin at the bottom, getting thicker as you get closer to the head, approximately five kilometers in height at the top, with tether towers attached to space tethers going up to geostationary orbit. The thin stalk before and at the 1 km point, will be approximately 1 km in radius, with supports attached to the ground or adjesant stalks and attached to the stalk every 50 meters or so for added strength, mass transit purposes, freight, etc.

Rocks and Dust is processed by the bottom level factories for it's Nitrogen and Oxygen content as well as CO2 and other atmospheric gasses that is presant on earth and pumped underneath the canopy. At first most of these gasses will escape into the atmosphere and then eventually escape from the planet. The key trick here is to pump in more than escapes.

The next method of accelorating the process is by mining asteroids and sending the products down the space tethers, which every mushroom head will have at least a couple. This would require extensive space infrastructure, but assuming the Space Tether works as promised then that should be a snap.

When a large enough area is under the cover of the Canopy, then they will start sealing it off from the outside so that gasses start to accumulate. Light will be a holographic sun and blue sky hiding various giant lamps stationed every so often. Then when the gasses become tolerable for human life, start colonizing and pump any additional gasses into the atmosphere, while researching ways to stop it from leaving the atmosphere alltogether. A bias should be given for farming in the first few artificial enclosed ecosystems.

When the colony is all setup, start renovating whole floors of the mushroom heads to hold vast tanks of water or some other radiation shielding substance.

We're Terraforming, so we should make the experience as much like Earth as possible.

Mars will most likely never be self sufficient at it is a lot smaller then Earth.

The point here is to completely sidestep the whole problem of escaping gasses by basically shutting mars, or a good portion of it, off to the effects of it's mass and the sun. This will probably take a couple hundred years, maybe even faster with advanced nanotechnological assembly and robotics.


[edit on 25-3-2006 by sardion2000]

[edit on 25-3-2006 by sardion2000]



posted on Mar, 26 2006 @ 09:56 AM
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Originally posted by sardion2000

Rocks and Dust is processed by the bottom level factories for it's Nitrogen and Oxygen content as well as CO2 and other atmospheric gasses that is presant on earth and pumped underneath the canopy. At first most of these gasses will escape into the atmosphere and then eventually escape from the planet. The key trick here is to pump in more than escapes.

What would keep all of these polluting factories running? This is one of the major problems I see. Perhaps solar power could somehow be implemented into the process? If so, then wouldn't the polluting gasses block out a good portion of the sunlight? Think about it, other than sunlight it would be very hard to find an alternative energy source on mars.


Originally posted by sardion2000
The point here is to completely sidestep the whole problem of escaping gasses by basically shutting mars, or a good portion of it, off to the effects of it's mass and the sun. This will probably take a couple hundred years, maybe even faster with advanced nanotechnological assembly and robotics.

I agree here. If only there was a way to transfer all of the unecessary pollution here on Earth over to Mars... But I think that polluting factories would be harder to assemble, transport, and would become a hassle to keep up. The most realistic soultion I can see is stationing large orbital mirrors, roughly 100km across. These mirrors would be extremely heavy but the payload could be propelled into orbit with the help of nuclear rocketry.

These mirrors once in orbit, would be aligned in such a way as to collect and focus sunlight onto the polar caps. This process would vaporize the C02 and substantially heat up the atmosphere.

Here is a visual of the effects on the polar caps:

This graph was derived through the use of mathematical formulas. In essence a runaway greenhouse effect would be achieved at any point above the vapor pressure line. When vapor pressure is above the Temp line the system moves left, when it is vice versa it moves to the right. Point A represents current equilibrium. With enough effort this equilibrium can be transfered to point B. The graph shows an increase in several degress K could lead to substantial greenhouse effect without requiring extensive infrastructure to keep it going. More on this theory later...

Source: www.users.globalnet.co.uk...



posted on Mar, 26 2006 @ 09:36 PM
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Originally posted by Liquidus
What would keep all of these polluting factories running?


Orbital Solar power stations.

Fusion power plants.

Plastering Mercury's surface with solar panels and beam it to Mars and Earth. If we have the technology to cover a good portion of Mars' surface with these buildings, then we can do this as well. It would provide Earth with plentiful energy as a side benefit. It will be a bit lossy when it travels through an atmosphere, that's where the orbital power stations come in. They can collect or redirect the power. When the power reaches it's predefined destination, the orbital station sends it down via a superconducting nanowire to the surface, making the space tether just that much more usefull.



I agree here. If only there was a way to transfer all of the unecessary pollution here on Earth over to Mars... But I think that polluting factories would be harder to assemble, transport, and would become a hassle to keep up. The most realistic soultion I can see is stationing large orbital mirrors, roughly 100km across. These mirrors would be extremely heavy but the payload could be propelled into orbit with the help of nuclear rocketry.


I'm making assumptions on our level of technological sophistication at the time of terraforming and colonization. I don't see our efforts really starting in earnest until the 22nd Century, should we survive.

These are the technologies that I assume will be widely available by then.

1. Fusion Power
Lets face it, without He3 Fusion power, we might as well not even bother to try until we get that all worked out.


2. 99.99% Efficient Solar Power
Will happen a lot sooner then some of the other innovations I assume will be available by the 22nd Century.


3. Advanced Nano-Fabrication(Nanobots, Nanofactories, etc.)
If we are gonna complete my plan on a reasonable timetable, at a reasonable cost (Cost of Energy + Cost of Materials + Cost of Labor), we need this technology. We can send a batch of Nanobots to start construction of the orbital structures before we even start to build the first colony ships for settlers. When all the initial orbital infrastructure is up and running, the Scientists, Engineers, Robotics Specialists, and Repair Personell arrive they'll move into the orbital structures and start to supervise the construction of the first Mushroom Building as a prototype. Perhaps we can do a trial run on the Moon first before we do this. Do it on the Far Side so it doesn't cause any complaints.



4. Very advanced ultra-light, ultra-strong materials.
In order to build things like Space Tethers and 5 km tall buildings on Mars we are gonna have to learn more in Materials Science.


5. Space Tether Technology
Necessary. This whole plan relies on this technology.




These mirrors once in orbit, would be aligned in such a way as to collect and focus sunlight onto the polar caps. This process would vaporize the C02 and substantially heat up the atmosphere.


This will work quite well actually. Build all the colonies on Mars' equatorial region, where the gasses will mostly go anyway. I think we should just concentrate on making the Bottom 5 km of the atmosphere relatively dense and habitable, then trap it in my interlocking Arcologies. Perhaps one day they could envolope the entire planet. That would be a sight to see, wouldn't it?



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