Terraforming a planet is not a new idea. The success of many of Elon Musk’s projects makes it worth considering the possibility of altering Mars to make it more suitable for us.
As we explore further into the solar system and beyond. The question if there is a way to habitation or colonize this planet will undoubtedly arise. Many have dreamed of Human bases on Mars or the Moon. Human nature wants to travel as far as possible and expand humanity’s presence permanently or at least semi-permanent way. To do this, however, you must be able to adapt to extreme environments. For example, a Moon colony must be self-sustaining, and it must protect its residents from the harsh, airless environment outside.
One way humans could persist in a world where all else is a joke is through Terraforming. You will die from low pressure, extreme temperature, radiation from cosmic rays, starvation, low gravity long-term, or if you are not killed on the way, landing, or simply from psychological stress.
The sticky question of how to protect indigenous life on Mars,
Are rock-eating microbes entitled to rights?
They would have an unquestionable scientific value, and it would be a terrible thing to plop thousands of filthy apes in an otherwise beautiful natural environment. This can be a crucial question that I will not address here.
Should take several intermediate steps to reduce the risks of Mars life for large populations of people before moving on to Terraforming. It is possible to build habitable structures, perhaps buried in regolith for radiation protection and insulation. It is possible to build “biodome” type facilities that put a little Earth inside a bubble. These are often called ‘para-terraforming.’ You will need to begin figuring out how to exploit the land.
One idea is canyon-tenting. Mars is home to landforms such as canyons, craters, and lava tubes. We might need only a lid structure to create large environments to introduce atmosphere, moisture, and control.
Terraforming is a partial or complete way to make a living from the land.
How do you achieve that?
First, try to increase the density of the Martian atmosphere. This is currently a lung-emptying 1/11000 that of Earth’s atmosphere in pressure. A thicker atmosphere and higher temperature could allow liquid water on the surface – sourced from large martian frozen water deposits.
Although Mars has large amounts of carbon dioxide in its frozen polar regions. It could be released as gas to boost atmospheric pressure and increase global retention. This is known as the ‘greenhouse effect. The martian atmosphere is currently much less transparent to infrared radiation (IR) than that of Earth. An IR ‘optical thickness’ is a statistical measure of how efficient light is stopped on Mars, which is 0.02 compared to Earth’s 0.83. Venus is 60.
We could eliminate most of Mars’s frozen carbon dioxide and raise the atmospheric pressure to 1/3 of Earth. This would allow us to increase the temperature to the point where the polar temperatures are permanently above the sublimation level. This will prevent CO2 ice from ever forming.
The more recent problem of contamination is also a concern. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty established a long-standing protocol to ensure that all spacecraft traveling to Mars or the Moon are sterilized. It is possible for bacteria from Earth to make it to Mars and survive. However, this would complicate the search to find life on the surface of the planet. If a lander or robot was to identify living organisms in the soil later. It could be challenging to tell if they are contaminated or native life forms. It would be prudent, both from a scientific and ethical standpoint, to try to protect Mars from any earthly invaders.
This is true regardless of whether Mars has been inhabited. It is possible to survive, if not impossible, on Mars without any bacteria or microorganisms. Although the risk of contamination across the entire planet is negligible. It is better to take preventive steps than gamble with fate.