Mars terraforming isn't possible with modern technology, study says

New data suggests that terraforming Mars might not be possible for a long time.
By Tyler MacDonald | Jul 31, 2018
Although proponents of terraforming, the process of creating a habitable environment on another planet, are hopeful that we can pull it off on Mars in the near future, a new study suggests that it's not possible with modern technology.

Most proponents suggest that we release greenhouse gases from various sources on the Red Planet in an effort to increase temperature to the point where liquid water is stable and thicken the atmosphere.

"Carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O) are the only greenhouse gases that are likely to be present on Mars in sufficient abundance to provide any significant greenhouse warming," said Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado.

And while previous studies have examined the possibility of terraforming Mars, the new results use an additional 20 years of spacecraft observations of the planet, making it arguably the most accurate to date.

"These data have provided substantial new information on the history of easily vaporized (volatile) materials like CO2 and H2O on the planet, the abundance of volatiles locked up on and below the surface, and the loss of gas from the atmosphere to space," said co-author Christopher Edwards.

"Our results suggest that there is not enough CO2 remaining on Mars to provide significant greenhouse warming were the gas to be put into the atmosphere; in addition, most of the CO2 gas is not accessible and could not be readily mobilized," Jakosky said. "As a result, terraforming Mars is not possible using present-day technology."

As of now, the results suggest that terraforming Mars will likely only be possible in the distant future.

The findings were published in Nature Astronomy.

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