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Chris Schubert's Terraforming Method


 
written by Chris Schubert on January 28, 2003 | forum profile | contact me
number of views: 10878 |   printable version (text) (PDF)



Volcanoes on Mars.
Volcanoes on Mars.
Credit: Mars Society Western Australia
Terraforming. How do we go about this boldest of undertakings? Where do we even begin? How do we take what appears to be a lifeless planet, such as Mars, into a thriving, life teeming, place to live? My plan is to turn this dream into a reality in a little over half a century.

There are many things that Mars needs to be able to become a planet suitable for supporting Humans unaided on the surface, thicker atmosphere, breathable air, a magnetosphere, heat.

But to achieve all of these things under my limit of 60 years we need to act fast. As soon as the first colonists arrive to the Red Planet, plans that have been years in the making should be set into motion as soon as possible. The first step would obviously be to achieve an artificial magnetosphere.

The reason for achieving this goal is so that we will have sufficient protection for future terraforming projects. The magnetosphere will protect the Marsí surface from the harmful radiation that is continuously flying through space. If this radiation is to be ignored, then it would completely scramble and break apart the most basic of DNA bonds. This would not only prove harmful to humans, but would also cause major problems to our lichens, mosses, and plants when they come into play.

Mars does not have a magnetosphere currently because its core has cooled and the dynamo process has stopped. Obviously there is no feasible or plausible way to make Marsí core molten once again, this situation calls for an artificial magnetosphere. To create one we need a grid of large Electromagnets placed on the surface to make a suitable magnetosphere. We would have to be careful as to not disrupt communications with these magnets, or cause any other technical problems.

With the new magnetosphere in place, we can begin to think about the next step, thickening the atmosphere. This goal to me goes hand in hand with making the air breathable, so my method is to do both at the same time.

In the early years small steps will be taken, releasing some Genetically Modified (GM) lichen onto the surface, and possibly erecting some PFC factories. Even constructing our homes can tribute to the Terraforming effort. When we mine the ground of its Iron Oxide, we can separate the Iron and the Oxygen, use the Iron for building materials, and release the Oxygen into the atmosphere. But as time goes on and the population increases more and more projects will be initialized.

After a fair amount of GM lichen is released onto the surface, and PFC factories in full swing, the major projects can begin. On the Southern Polar Cap, we place several, CO2 recycling plants, side by side with the newly projected Australian Power Tower, and a special black colored lichen to attract sunlight. As the Southern Cap sublimes, we can put the evaporating CO2 in to the cycle and receive power from it, and the best part is the byproduct is Oxygen, we release the surplus Oxygen into the ever-thickening atmosphere. Of course we want a little CO2 in the atmosphere to contribute to the Greenhouse gasses being put into the atmosphere by the PFCs.

Subliming the Northern Polar cap will hopefully be easier, because it is water ice, we do not need to worry about converting it to CO2, when it sublimes it will add water vapor to the atmosphere, and eventually, when temperatures reach above 0įC (Freezing Point) there will be the ever famous, trade mark of fan art, Surface wrapping sea in the northern hemisphere.

During these processes GM lichen and plants will be continuously being released onto the surface and changing the CO2 into Oxygen. There is talk of plants, at night, start to take in Oxygen and release CO2. My stubbornness would not allow myself to believe this is true, but all the while I ignored the simple answer that was there in front of me. The plants and/or lichen can not be as active as they were in the daytime at night. The energy to release Oxygen and take in CO2 comes from photosynthesis. There is no light at night so there is not a lot of energy to sustain a lot of activity. I think that when the plant starts to take in Oxygen and release CO2, it is using up its excess energy.

There is also the controversy of large orbital mirrors being put into place. These mirrors would add to the light on the surface therefore helping plants to photosynthesize, and also improving the output of solar cells. But as of now there is no feasible way to achieve these enormous mirrors, too many security risks as well.

Heating the planetís surface is a job up to the PFCs. They will start a greenhouse effect, not a runaway one mind you, but a greenhouse effect none the less. They will trap the suns solar rays and continually heat the planet. Really all that is needed is for the temperatures to average above freezing. The process could continue to make it even hotter, but there really is no need, as long as we can breath its fine. I donít mind wearing a heavy coat.

So with the planet now covered in plant life, and the atmosphere thick and mostly Oxygen it is time for humans to venture out onto the surface, unaided. Making the impossible possible. Advancing the technology and success of the human race for the entire Universe to see.

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