NASA says nobody—not even Elon Musk—can terraform Mars

Aug 2, 2018

By Tim Fernholz

Given recent trends, you may think humans have mastered filling a planet’s atmosphere with carbon dioxide and heating it up.

But scientists using data collected by NASA spacecraft say using this technique to make Mars habitable for humans is far beyond the technology we have today.

The problem is one of supply: There’s simply not enough carbon dioxide on Mars to create an atmosphere that traps heat and gases close to the planetary surface.

The idea of “terraforming” the red planet is to make it more Earth-like by increasing its temperature so that liquid water could exist, rather than freeze, with a greenhouse atmosphere more conducive to life. The vision has long inspired science-fiction authors and putative space explorers. When, in 2016, Elon Musk’s first presented his vision to go to Mars, few missed that images of the planet grew steadily greener as he unveiled the steps in his plan.

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One comment on “NASA says nobody—not even Elon Musk—can terraform Mars”

  • The most likely outcome of an attempt to terraform Mars, is to mess it up for thousands of years, making the operation of any bases or transport systems there, extremely difficult.

    Mars is much further out in the Solar-System and even with an Earth-like atmosphere, would have conditions akin to the South Polar base on Earth!

    Then as far as human habitation goes there are the very serious issues of low gravity and surface radiation!



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