Sagan's work has inspired other researchers and futurists to take the idea of terraformation seriously. The key question was: is there enough greenhouse gases and Mars water to raise its atmospheric pressure to Earth-like levels? In 1968, two NASA-funded researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder and North Arizona discovered that the processing of all sources available on Mars would only increase the atmospheric pressure to about 7 percent of Earth's, far from what is needed to turn the planet into habitable.
Terraforming on Mars seemed to be an unforgettable dream. Researchers at Harvard University, NASA's Reactive Movement Lab and Edinburgh University have a new idea. Instead of trying to change the whole planet, what will happen if you take a more regional approach?
Researchers suggest that areas of the Martian surface can be made habitable with material – a silica aerogel – which imitates the Earth's atmospheric greenhouse effect. Through modeling and experimentation, researchers have shown that a two to three centimeter thick silicon airgel shield can transmit sufficiently visible light for photosynthesis, block dangerous harmful UV radiation, and raise temperatures below constantly above the melting temperature of the water without needed
The document was published in Nature Astronomy .
"This regional approach to making Mars habitable is much more achievable than global atmospheric modification," says Robin Wordsworth, an associate professor of environmental science and engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, John A. Paulson (SEAS ) and the Ministry of Earth and Planetary Sciences. "Unlike previous ideas that make Mars habitable, it's something that can be developed and tested systematically with the materials and technologies we already have."
"Mars is the most habitable planet in our solar system except the Earth," said Laura Kerber. Researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Engine. "But it remains a hostile world for many types of life." A system for creating small islands of habitation will allow us to transform Mars in a controlled and scalable way. "
Researchers were inspired by a phenomenon that is already happening on Mars
Unlike Polar ice caps made of frozen water, polar ice caps on Mars are a combination of water ice and frozen CO2. Like its gaseous form, frozen CO2 allows sunlight to penetrate while capturing heat. In summer, this hard greenhouse creates pockets of warming under the ice.
"We began to think about this hard greenhouse effect and how it could be called to create a habitable Mars environment in the future," he said. Wordsworth. "We began to think what materials can minimize heat conduction, but still transmit as much light as possible."
Researchers perched on a silica aerogel, one of the most insulating materials ever created. porous, which means that light moves through the material, but binds the nanoparticle silicon dioxide infrared rays and significantly slows down the heat. These aerogels are used in several engineering applications today, including the Mars Exploration Rovers.
"The silica gel is a promising material because its effect is passive," said Kerber. "This does not require large amounts of energy or maintenance of moving parts to keep it warm for long periods of time." elevated average temperatures of the average latitudes of Mars to Earth-like temperatures.
"Scattered on a large enough area, you do not need another technology or physics, you just need a layer of these things on the surface and there will be constant liquid water beneath you," Wordsworth said.
This material can be used to build housing domes or even separate biospheres on Mars on Mars
Then the team aims to test the material on a Mars-like climate on Earth, such as the dry valleys of Antarctica or Chile. of the Earth also raises important philosophical and ethical issues planetary protection. "If you are going to give life to the surface of Mars, are you sure there is no longer life there?" If there is, how do we navigate, Wordsworth asked, "The moment we decide to commit to we have people on Mars, these questions are inevitable.
The outbreak of methane may have warmed the beginning of Mars
Enable Martian Habitability with Silica Aerogel by Solid Greening, Nature Astronomy . DOI: 10.1038 / s41550-019-0813-0
A silicate aerogel can make Mars habitable (2019, July 15)
drawn up on 15 July 2019
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