NASA is again on the verge of colonizing Mars as scientists have suggested a bold plan that could give Mars its atmosphere back and make the Red Planet livable for future generations of human colonists. It could only be possible by making Mars safe, from solar winds and in order to do that they will launch a giant magnetic shield into the space. The space agency says we could restore the Red Planet's atmosphere, and terraform the Martian environment so that liquid water flows on the surface once again.
Artist’s impression. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre
Red Planet is thought to have once a thick atmosphere that must have maintained deep oceans filled with liquid water, and a warmer, potentially habitable climate, but now the weather not even suitable for any human being.
Scientists think Mars lost all of this because of the collapse that happened with its protective magnetic field billions of years ago, the high-energy particles coming from the Sun been destroying the atmosphere of red planet since then.
The "artificial magnetosphere" is the basic concept that scientists have proposed in new findings presented at the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop last week, NASA's Planetary Science Division director, Jim Green, said launching an "artificial magnetosphere" into space between Mars and the Sun could theoretically shield the Red Planet in the extended magneto tail that trails behind the protective field.
The researchers explained this in a research paper: "This situation then eliminates many of the solar wind erosion processes that occur with the planet's ionosphere and upper atmosphere allowing the Martian atmosphere to grow in pressure and temperature over time,"
While the team acknowledges that the concept might sound "fanciful", they point to existing miniature magnetosphere research being conducted to protect astronauts and spacecraft from cosmic radiation, and think that the same technology on a larger scale could be used to shield Mars.
If this proposal could be able to transfer itself into reality and if the solar wind were neutralized by the magnetic shield, Mars's atmospheric losses would stop, and the atmosphere would regain as much as half the atmospheric pressure of Earth in a matter of years.
Green said: "It may be feasible that we can get up to these higher field strengths that are necessary to provide that shielding. We need to be able then to also modify that direction of the magnetic field so that it always pushes the solar wind away."
About 4 degree Celsius temperature is needed to melt carbon dioxide ice. The team estimates Mars's climate would become around 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer, which would be enough to melt carbon dioxide ice over the Red Planet's northern polar cap.
Green said: "This is not terraforming as you may think of it where we actually artificially change the climate, but we let nature do it, and we do that based on the physics we know today”.
It is being admitted by the team that their plan mostly look very dramatic, but if this happened, it would be pretty amazing vision for what might be possible in the years ahead. The researchers intend to keep studying the possibilities to get a more accurate estimate of how long the climate-altering effects would take.
The researchers said: “Much like Earth, an enhanced atmosphere would: allow larger landed mass of equipment to the surface, shield against most cosmic and solar particle radiation, extend the ability for oxygen extraction, and provide 'open air' green-houses to exist for plant production, just to name a few, if this can be achieved in a lifetime, the colonization of Mars would not be far away."
The findings were presented at the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop.