Cold Water Bucket: Study Finds It Will Be Hard to Colonize Mars

We have known for some time about plans to one day send Earthlings to colonize Mars, right? Incidentally, there is a crowd involved in the development of this idea - from space agencies, to independent scientists and university institutions, including progressive billionaires - as setting up residence on the Red Planet will be a tremendous challenge.

For a study presented this week in the journal Nature Astronomy ended up throwing a nice bucket of cold water on the plans of those who dream of colonizing Mars. The research, conducted by Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Christopher S. Edwards of the University of Northern Arizona, found that terraforming the Red Planet is a basically impossible process.

Earth ... what?

If you've never heard of the term terraforming, it consists of a series of actions that - hypothetically - would result in the alteration of the atmosphere, climate, soil and a host of other natural features on Mars to make certain regions of the planet more sensitive. favorable and suitable for the establishment of human colonies there.

Martian colony idea

(Kotaku)

In other words, this process would artificially transform the Martian environment into something more ... Terran, so that it becomes more livable. Well, dear reader, as if it were not enough to alter the Earth, you are wanting to modify other planets, so that they offer conditions like atmospheric pressure and composition similar to the ones we have here.

* To better understand the importance of having an atmosphere, check out a story that we publish on the theme through this link.

Natural resources

Those who argue that the terraforming of Mars is possible relies on factors such as the fact that 96% of the planet's atmosphere is carbon dioxide. And what about CO2 with that? Recent findings have revealed that there is ice (and possibly water) at the Martian poles - and it may be possible to find ice and water molecules beneath the Martian surface as well.

Martian Colony Design

(cnet / SpaceX)

In addition, advocates of terraforming believe that there are large amounts of CO2 in Martian soil. Thus, this compound could be used to create a greenhouse effect on the planet, which in turn would cause the warming of Mars and consequently melt the ice in order to create lakes with liquid water, the release of steam. on the surface and the production of an atmosphere more like ours. And this is where the new study comes in.

Don't roll

The researchers considered two approaches in their study to determine the feasibility of terraforming Mars and making it more livable. One would involve raising the Red Planet's atmospheric pressure so that human colonists did not have to use very bulky devices to breathe there, but more portable equipment.

The other approach would involve creating an atmosphere that would allow water in its liquid form to exist on the surface of Mars so that the Terrans did not need to use any breathing apparatus in the colonized areas.

Human colony on Mars

(SciFi Ideas)

The problem is that surveys conducted by scientists have pointed out that, in addition to the Martian atmosphere being much less dense than the Earth's, it has a pressure equivalent to only 0.6% of ours. Moreover, while 96% of it is CO2, there is simply not enough carbon dioxide to generate the global warming needed to create an atmosphere.

With respect to the CO2 that may exist on the planet - apart from the present in the "very fine" atmosphere - it is not accessible and could not easily be obtained with the technology we currently have. But even if it were possible, the study suggests that if we melted the ice present at the Martian poles, the atmospheric pressure there would probably double to 1.2 percent of what we have here on Earth.

According to the researchers, even if we could release all the carbon dioxide on Mars, the pressure could jump to 7% of ours, but even then it would not be close enough to heat the Red Planet. Obviously, we cannot rule out the possibility that the technology needed to terraform our neighbor will be developed or that science will find alternatives, but it seems that the dream of colonizing Mars has become more distant.

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