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Space & Astronomy

NASA proposes magnetic shield around Mars

By T.K. Randall
March 3, 2017 · Comment icon 15 comments

It is possible to make Mars habitable again ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Scientists have put forward a plan to terraform Mars by surrounding the planet with a magnetic field.
The incredibly ambitious concept, which would see the atmosphere of Mars being returned to its earlier, more habitable state, was revealed at NASA's Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop, a meeting during which scientists typically discuss proposals for futuristic space missions.

NASA's Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green described the idea during a talk entitled "A Future Mars Environment for Science and Exploration."

In it, he put forward the idea of placing a "magnetic shield" in to a stable orbit between Mars and the Sun which would protect the planet from high-energy solar particles. Over time, this would allow Mars to slowly regain the atmosphere that it lost over the last few billion years.
Eventually, the greenhouse effect would begin to heat up the planet, melting the ice and flooding the surface with liquid water that would go on to create oceans and rivers.

"Perhaps one-seventh of the ancient ocean could return to Mars," said Green.

While the idea is certainly intriguing, there is one major problem with it - terraforming Mars in this way to make it more habitable for humans to live on is likely to take millions of years.

By that time, assuming we are still around, our species will have evolved beyond recognition.

Source: Popular Mechanics | Comments (15)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Calibeliever 6 years ago
The mostly likely cause of Mar's magnetic field disappearing (if one existed to begin with) is the hardening of it's core due to cooling. Mars is smaller than earth so it would have cooled much faster. Without that dynamo, there's nothing to create a magnetic field. No weapon strike was necessary.
Comment icon #7 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
THe only way I can see this happening is if we humans forget about money and join together and just do what we need to do to make the species the best it can be for everyone. So basically, it will never happen.
Comment icon #8 Posted by taniwha 6 years ago
  Interesting that anyone seriously  want to terraform mars when everything we need to survive is right here on Earth. If only they turned their eyes from the skies back to the ground and dream more about Earth what might be achieved?
Comment icon #9 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 6 years ago
Weapons strike ? Seriously ? Can you elaborate on how Xenon129 is an indication of a nuclear strike ?
Comment icon #10 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 6 years ago
One thing doesn't have to exclude another.  Anyway its not like terraforming Mars is something that would happen soon. Its a thing that might happen in the future and I don't think there is anything wrong with dreaming about what we might do in the future. (But of course we have to make sure that Mars doesn't get nuked again. )  
Comment icon #11 Posted by khol 6 years ago
Humans are programmed to seek is innate within us. We always will and it will never change New science can lead to developments that benefit humanity.Speculation like terra forming Mars is it going to happen anytime soon?..probably not...maybe not ever    But its ok to think moves us forward and leads to new things Here are some examples of " impossibilities conquered by science"        
Comment icon #12 Posted by cyclopes500 6 years ago
If I remember right earths geological plate movements are lubricated to an extent by water. I'm wondering if the water returns and sinks and everything can start moving again, whether in time Mars's natural dynamo will return.
Comment icon #13 Posted by fred_mc 6 years ago
Wouldn't it be much easier to terra-form Venus? It already has a magnetic field. The problem is that Venus has a very thick atmosphere with much carbon dioxide giving extreme temperature and pressure at the surface. However, it should be possible to pump much of the atmosphere into space I think, giving better conditions. Not sure how to do it though.
Comment icon #14 Posted by khol 6 years ago
Valid question..actually Mars because it already has a day about the right length and heating planets is easier then cooling them.
Comment icon #15 Posted by fred_mc 6 years ago
I think that article misses the fact that Mars can't hold on to an atmosphere because of the missing magnetic field. Furthermore, I agree that getting Venus to spin faster would be totally unrealistic. I disagree with the article that we would have to do that though. If we were living on Venus we would simply have to accept that a Venus day is extremely long, longer than a Venus year, and create our own 24-hour periods that we call days. Of course, it would be psychologically challenging with many months in a row totally dark and then many totally light though.

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