Elon Musk Wants to Terraform Mars with Nuke
Elon Musk Wants to Terraform Mars with a Nuke
Billionaire Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla Motors) appeared on the new Stephen Colbert CBS Late Show this week, discussing current ventures which led into talk of mankind’s potential future on Mars. He describes at first that humans would have to live in ‘clear domes’ but eventually, life outside in the Mars atmosphere could be made habitable through processes of terraforming it into an “Earthlike planet”.
When asked how by Colbert, he replied, “You could warm it up.”
According to Musk, there are two ways to achieve this, “The fast way, and the slow way… The fast way is to drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles.”
“The slow way,” he continues, would be to “release greenhouse gases like we’re doing on Earth”
He suggested that we could do this by transporting some of Earth’s own pre-existing greenhouse gases.
Habitable Atmosphere – The Fast Way
This type of ‘Mars terraforming’ proposal by ‘nuke’ has been discussed at length between other scientists in the past. It would involve melting the ice at Mars’ poles to turn into water vapor, making it warm enough to support oceans and moist atmospheric conditions for life. Still, the idea has drawbacks such as dust and debris from the blast blocking out sunlight, sending Mars into a nuclear winter scenario, among other things.
“There are so many things that could go wrong here it is difficult to know where to start,” renowned climate scientist and professional buzzkill Michael Mann, a professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, told U.S. News.
The Slow Way
Creating a habitable environment on Mars by transporting our own greenhouse gases would definitely be slow, though researchers have looked into manufacture of gases which, according to Space.com, could be “10,000 times more effective” than gases resulting from carbon dioxide. According to the author of a 2005 paper on the subject, “Since warming Mars effectively reverts it to its past, more habitable state, this would give any possibly dormant life on Mars the chance to be revived and develop further.”
What do you think of Musk’s bold proposal? Do you see any issues in the Mars terraforming debate?
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