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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

New Article: Matthew Johnson's Terraforming Method

A terraformed Mars.
A terraformed Mars.
Credit: Matthew Johnson / TerraGen
Matthew Johnson has submitted an updated version of his Terraforming Method, an all encompassing explanation of how we might go about terraforming Mars. An easy-to-understand and brief read, his article is packed with stats and specifics as to exactly how the science behind his theories works. His style is developed and well-written, though some of his ideas may be controversial at times. He incorporates the somewhat renegade theory of paraterraforming. Here's a snippet:

All we know is that Mars won’t retain its atmosphere in the long run, so we must take this into consideration.If we were to put a roof over Mars, most of the above information is still valid, but a few changes must be made. First, the sun on Mars must be blocked out so as to totally freeze its current air and all the air imported from comets. This could be done with a large mirror that instead of directing more sunlight onto Mars, it reflected it away. Once Mars is an airless world coated with frozen gases, the towers must be built and the transparent roof constructed. To create an Earthlike meteorology, the roof should be at least 10 miles high, higher is possible. Once the ceiling is built, the sun is allowed to shine again and warm the frozen gases, creating an atmosphere and standing. Local biology does the same stuff as in terraforming, so everything progresses from here the same way.

Not only would this method stop slow escape of gases, but it would also decrease the amount of gases needed to get the job done. The only risk here is meteor punctures, but it would take a very large tear or impact to pose a significant threat. All that is needed to keep everything safe is a repair system constantly poised to fix holes, just as though Mars were an giant orbital habitat. Paraterraforming will fix the long-term problems of terraforming, but will likely add a century or two to total project time. And if the atmosphere is to be kept at bay by freezing it, a modular progression will not be possible. If we go this path, we will have to stick with the moon and orbital habitats until it is finished.

- posted by Alex @ 18:28 EST