07 February 2005

Terraforming: Venus and Mars

Read an article yesterday in which they spoke of a revolutionary new idea to make the planet Mars habitable for humans and other terrestrial life forms. Not revolutionary at all, in fact, i wrote a paper about his (not for school, just for kicks) when I was 14, and it has probably been dreamed about for generations. In the article, they advocated seeding the red planet with greenhouse gases. duh.

For those with little planetary science background, Venus and Mars have similarly composed atmospheres, 98% CO2 (Carbon Dioxide). Earth once had the same, being a fellow terrestrial planet, and evolving in a similar fashion, but the biosphere (aka 'life') changed ours to better suit itself. the problem with developing complex, multicellular life forms on those planets is that the atmosphere of Venus is too thick and Mars is too thin. In fact, the formers is so thick that the pressures (~100x that of earth at sea level) and temperatures (enough to melt lead), while the latters are so thin and cold, that anything beyond simple, single-celled bacteria would currently be impossible.

Anyone see where im going with this? It doesnt take a rocket scientist (like the pun?) to see a+b=c, so extract a major portion of the venetian atmosphere and send it to the martian atmosphere. Granted, this would be a massive undertaking, far greater than anything mankind has attempted in our collective history, yet by thinning venus and thickening the martian atmospheres, the rest should be easy. Maybe some water creation and other chemical alterations (say with the soil), and boom, the planet is 'terraformed' and ready to be planted with the seed of life.

Of course, the new ecosystem would take on a drastically different path, they would become just like earth, but they may be adaptable enough to be suitable for large complex creatures that currently exist on Earth to support. This process naturally has an enormous time scale, say centuries or millennia, and we homo sapiens might not be around that long considering how rapidly we are destroying this planet. And of course, should life exist on either (even simple bacteria), we have the moral responsibility not to tamper with their worlds.