Space & Astronomy
Elon Musk suggests dropping nukes on Mars
By T.K. Randall
September 11, 2015 · 76 comments
Could nuclear weapons make it possible for humans to live on Mars ? Image Credit: ISRO
The SpaceX CEO proposed the unconventional idea as a way to terraform the planet for humans to live on.
The peculiar suggestion was offered during an interview on the "Late Show With Stephen Colbert" last Wednesday night during a discussion about humans living on Mars in the future.
Describing Mars as a "fixer-upper of a planet", Musk indicated that while the first settlers will need to live inside self-contained domes on the surface it should eventually be possible to transform the whole planet so that its atmosphere is hospitable to humans.
When asked how he would achieve this Musk suggested that one way would be to drop thermonuclear weapons over the planet's poles in order to quickly warm it up.
But would dropping bombs really be the best plan or was Musk simply making a joke ?
It certainly represents a viable idea, however in order to start a runaway greenhouse effect it would be necessary to drop thousands of bombs over the course of several years. The planet would also become inhospitable due to the nuclear fallout for a long time afterwards.
"It's a clever idea in principle," said Michael Shara, curator of the American Museum of Natural History's astrophysics department. "Whether it would really work, I don't think anyone has worked up the physics in enough detail to say it would."
Given that we have yet to even land a single human on Mars however it is unlikely that terraforming the whole planet is something that anyone is likely to be attempting any time soon.
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