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Space & Astronomy

Elon Musk suggests dropping nukes on Mars

By T.K. Randall
September 11, 2015 · Comment icon 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.

Source: MSNBC | Comments (76)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #67 Posted by Anomalocaris 9 years ago
Elon Musk won't nuke Mars, he'll just give it 2 temporary suns "What I was talking about," said Musk, "was having a series of very large, by our standards, but very small by calamity standards, essentially having two tiny pulsing suns over the poles. They’re really above the planet. Not on the planet." Read more
Comment icon #68 Posted by DieChecker 9 years ago
I saw this back in the news again. Still an interesting idea.
Comment icon #69 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
And a big load of radiation. No I feel pretty sure that would be fully considered. You have no idea the progress that has been made.
Comment icon #70 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
I saw this back in the news again. Still an interesting idea. Yes, although I regret having put in my oar here. The word "nuclear" causes phobic (irrational) reactions even in people who should know better, and at this stage there is no point defending the idea since it would be a century or more in the future.
Comment icon #71 Posted by Norbert the Powerful 9 years ago
No I feel pretty sure that would be fully considered. You have no idea the progress that has been made. That sounds rather like the argument that was much argued a little while ago that the absence of any detectable radiation doesn't disprove the theory that the World trade Center was brought down by a mini-Nuke because they've probably developed radiation-free Nukes by now. As people are so keen on arguing in other areas, there are some basic rules of physics that you can't avoid.
Comment icon #72 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
That sounds rather like the argument that was much argued a little while ago that the absence of any detectable radiation doesn't disprove the theory that the World trade Center was brought down by a mini-Nuke because they've probably developed radiation-free Nukes by now. As people are so keen on arguing in other areas, there are some basic rules of physics that you can't avoid. Does not follow. Use good syllogisms if you want to not sound silly.
Comment icon #73 Posted by Norbert the Powerful 9 years ago
i certainly would, if I knew what I meant.
Comment icon #74 Posted by JesseCuster 9 years ago
* you'd have to crash thousands of asteroids into Mars to increase its mass to that of Earth, and increase its diameter and increase its gravity. The asteroid belt has a total mass approximately 1/200 (and half of that mass is contained in the 4 largest objects) that of Mars so you could crash every single one of the millions upon millions asteroids that make it up without making an appreciable change to the size or gravity of Mars.
Comment icon #75 Posted by Thorvir Hrothgaard 9 years ago
Mars will still need a strong magnetic field first and foremost.
Comment icon #76 Posted by Midyin 9 years ago
Nuclear warheads would heat the red planet to make it more Earth-like, claims Elon Musk OH GOD, Don't do that, you'll p*** off the Martians!


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