Every millennial’s dream is to get away from the city and start a quiet life in the suburbs.
What about starting a new life in space?
Is there life on Mars? Is there life on the moon?
Is it possible to cultivate crops and have drinking water there?
What is this process called?
The process of altering a planet, moon, or other body to a more hospitable atmosphere, temperature, or ecology is known as “earth-shaping.”
Renowned astronomer Carl Sagan proposed using planetary engineering techniques to change Venus in a 1961 article that appeared in the journal Science.
This involves sprinkling algae into Venus’ atmosphere in order to convert the planet’s abundant nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water into organic compounds and lessen the runaway greenhouse effect.
To make the polar ice caps melt faster and create more “Earth-like conditions,” these measures included bringing low-albedo material and/or planting dark plants there.
In 1976, NASA made official mention of the topic of planetary engineering. The study came to the conclusion that a warmer, oxygen and ozone-rich atmosphere could be produced by photosynthetic organisms, melting of the polar ice caps, and the release of greenhouse gases. In the same year, the first conference session on terraforming, then known as “Planetary Modeling,” was organized.
The First Terraforming Colloquium was organized in March 1979 as a special session at the tenth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, which is held annually in Houston, Texas.
They explored the potential for a self-regulating Martian biosphere within it, including the necessary procedures. The term “terraforming” was used in the title of a published article for the first time; it would become the preferred term.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are added to the atmosphere to cause global warming.
The biophysicist Robert Haynes was inspired by this book to start endorsing terraforming as a component of ecopoiesis.
This term describes the starting point of an ecosystem and is derived from the Greek words oikos (“house”) and poiesis (“production”). It includes a type of planetary engineering in the context of space exploration, where a viable ecosystem is created on an otherwise lifeless planet.
This starts with microbial life being introduced to a planet, which creates conditions resembling those of a prehistoric Earth. The importation of plant life, which speeds up the production of oxygen, comes next, and is followed by the introduction of animal life.
Kenneth Roy investigated the idea of enclosing an alien world in a substantial “shell” to keep its atmosphere contained while allowing long-term changes to take hold.
Another concept is “paraterraforming,” which involves sealing a useful portion of a planet inside a dome in order to change its surroundings.The worldhouse concept could be used to terraform areas of a variety of planets that are otherwise inhospitable or cannot be completely changed.
Potential Sites To Start A New Life
Mercury’s surface is largely inhospitable to life, with temperatures that alternate between being extremely hot and being extremely cold.
the northern polar region’s presence of organic molecules and water ice. Consequently, colonies could be built in the regions, and paraterraforming would be possible.
The northern region could be changed to accommodate human habitation if domes of sufficient size could be constructed over the craters.
This could be achieved by directing sunlight into the domes through mirrors, gradually raising the temperature. After the water ice melted, soil could be created by combining it with organic compounds and finely ground sand. Once oxygen was produced by plants and combined with nitrogen gas, a breathable atmosphere was created.
Venus’ atmosphere would need to undergo chemical reactions in order to become breathable and lose some of its density.
In one scenario, atmospheric CO2 would be converted into graphite and water by the introduction of hydrogen and iron aerosol. Due to Venus’s relatively constant elevation, this water would eventually fall to the planet’s surface, where it would cover about 80% of the surface.
Speeding up Venus’ rotation has been proposed as a potential terraforming technique. It may start to produce a stronger magnetic field if it could be spun up to the point where its day-night cycle is similar to Earth’s.
By preventing as much solar wind and corresponding radiation from reaching the surface, this would make it safer for terrestrial organisms.
The Moon is the closest celestial body to Earth, so colonizing it would be relatively simple in comparison to other bodies.
But when it comes to terraforming the Moon, the possibilities and difficulties are very similar to those of Mercury because the Moon has a very thin atmosphere and a dearth of the elements needed for life—hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon.
By capturing comets that have water ice and volatiles and crashing them into the surface, these issues could be solved. These gases and water vapor would be dispersed by the sublimating comets to form an atmosphere. The water trapped in the lunar regolith would also be released by these impacts, and this water could eventually build up on the surface to form natural bodies of water.
The Moon’s rotation would speed up as a result of the transfer of momentum from these comets, and it would no longer be tidally locked. A moon with a stable day-night cycle would be easier to colonize and adapt to life on the moon if it rotated once on its axis every 24 hours.
Mars is the most frequently selected location for terraforming. Its proximity to Earth, its similarities to Earth, and the fact that it once had an environment very similar to Earth’s — one with a thicker atmosphere and warm, flowing water on the surface — are a few of the factors contributing to this. And finally, it’s thought that Mars may have more underground water sources than is currently known.
In essence, the day-night and seasonal cycles on Mars are very similar to those on Earth. In the latter scenario, Mars experiences seasonal changes that are strikingly similar to those on Earth because of its similarly tilted axis (25.19° compared to 23°).
Beyond these, Mars would need to undergo significant changes before humans could live there. It would be necessary to drastically thicken the atmosphere and alter its composition. At present, 96% of Mars’ atmosphere is carbon dioxide, 1.93% is argon, and 1.89% is nitrogen, and its air pressure is only 1% that of Earth at sea level.
Above all, Mars is devoid of a magnetosphere, which results in a significantly higher radiation level on its surface than is typical for Earth.
By bombarding the planet’s polar regions with meteors, Mars’ atmosphere could be thickened and the surface warmed. This would result in the melting of the poles, the release of the water and carbon dioxide that had been frozen there, and the ensuing greenhouse effect.
Ammonia and methane, two volatile substances, could be introduced into the atmosphere, thickening it and causing warming. Both could be mined from the icy moons of the outer Solar System, especially from the moons of Titan, Ganymede, and Callisto.
After colliding with the surface, the ammonia ice would sublimate and decompose into hydrogen and nitrogen, with the nitrogen serving as a buffer gas. The hydrogen would then interact with the CO2 to form water and graphite. Meanwhile, the methane would act as a greenhouse gas, accelerating global warming. The impacts would also release large amounts of dust into the atmosphere, accelerating the trend toward global warming.
Another idea is to create orbital mirrors that would be positioned close to the poles and focus sunlight on the surface to start a warming cycle by causing the polar ice caps to melt and release CO2 gas. It has also been proposed to use the dark dust from Phobos and Deimos to lower the surface’s albedo, allowing it to absorb more sunlight.
In summary, terraforming Mars has a lot of options. And many of them are at least on the table, if not immediately accessible.
Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have argued that humanity needs a “backup location” to ensure its survival.
Mars One has recruited thousands of volunteers to help colonize the Red Planet. NASA, the ESA, and China have all expressed interest in the possibility of long-term habitability on Mars or the Moon. From all appearances, terraforming appears to be yet another science-fiction idea that is moving closer to becoming a reality.
Even with an unbelievable price tag and many advanced technologies, this one day might become a reality.
Just like in the David Bowie song, do you believe there’s life on Mars?