Terraforming Mars – Part 1

image courtesy of webolutionary.com

Earth’s population is expected to reach 10 billion people by the end of this century, and we are already strained for resources. With the possibility of global catastrophe looming as well, scientists such as Dr. Stephen Hawking are beginning to seriously consider colonizing other planets. The best option in our solar system is Mars. Currently, Mars is cold and dry, with a very thin atmosphere. However, through the process known as terraforming, we can alter the Martian climate and planetary surface, to make it one day capable of supporting human life without space suits. This article will look at 2 important questions; can we do it… and should we?

Mars is a good candidate for terraforming for several reasons:

  • Mars is relatively close to Earth
  • Mars has a day length of 24 hours 39 min (Earth: 24 hours).
  • An axial tilt of 24 degrees (Earth 23.5 degrees).
  • A gravitational pull one-third of Earth’s
  • It is close enough to the sun to experience seasons.

Mars still has a long way to go before humans can walk around on the surface without space suits. This is because of several reasons; the Martian atmosphere is compsed almost entirely of carbon dioxide, the Martian atmosphere is too thin, and it is very cold. I’ll discuss each of these concerns in upcoming articles.
One of the concerns voiced by environmentalists regarding the colonization of space, is that humans will view it as a a solution to our current ecological disaster, and expand our throwaway society mentality to Mars or any other planet. “Who cares what happens to this planet, we can always move to another one.” This is a very valid concern, one that I myself share. However, since Mars has no oil… recycling and conservation will be built into any colonists actions from the first day they set foot on the red planet’s surface. I believe that space colonization is inevitable, and necessary for the survival of our species.

This process must be done with ecology first and foremost in the minds of the planners, terraformers, and colonizers. We’ve caused terrible damage to Earth, we must learn from these mistakes and not start down the wrong path on a new planet.

However, there is a silver lining to the cloud. Many of the things we’ve learned from our actions on Earth can be used to make Mars habitable. In the following few articles I’ll discuss some of the ideas being looked at for one day turning our red planet into another green planet.

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About

Steve holds a degree in Environmental Engineering Technology from Humber College in Toronto, is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. He currently lives in Victoria BC and works as a green building consultant specializing in residential projects.

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