Colonizing Mars: NASA Say Magnetic Shield Could Restore Red Planet’s Atmosphere

The idea of colonizing Mars has just become more real as NASA have suggested launching a huge magnetic shield in space in order to restore the Red Planet’s atmosphere. This new magnetic shield would be able to protect Mars from fierce solar winds and might also be able to completely transform the Martian environment so that it would no longer be the dry planet it is today and would have liquid water in abundance.

When people think of Mars, oftentimes the image that is conjured is one of a barren, rocky planet, similar to Tatooine in Star Wars. However, at one point in time, Mars had a thick atmosphere, which means that there may have been liquid water oceans on the Red Planet coupled with a more comfortable temperature.

Scientists now believe that liquid water and a suitable temperature were lost billions of years ago with the collapse of the Red Planet’s magnetic field. Solar wind has only been exacerbating the problem and has helped to contribute to the demise of the atmosphere on Mars.

The lower section of Mount Sharp on Mars taken by NASA on August 18, 2012. [Image by Handout/Getty Images]

NASA’s solution to colonizing Mars has come through simulations the agency has run, which show that if a magnetic shield was launched and was used in place of Mars’s magnetosphere, which is now gone, this magnetic shield may be able to help the Red Planet get its atmosphere back once again, as Science Alert report.

NASA presented their latest findings with regard to launching a magnetic shield in space over Mars at the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Worship which was held last week. They explained what would happen if Mars had a thicker atmosphere and how it could make the Red Planet habitable.

“A greatly enhanced Martian atmosphere, in both pressure and temperature, that would be enough to allow significant surface liquid water would also have a number of benefits for science and human exploration in the 2040s and beyond. Much like Earth, an enhanced atmosphere would: allow larger landed mass of equipment to the surface, shield against most cosmic and solar particle radiation, extend the ability for oxygen extraction, and provide ‘open air’ greenhouses to exist for plant production, just to name a few.”

NASA went on to say that if all went according to plan, humans might even be able to colonize Mars in the not too distant future.

“These new conditions on Mars would allow human explorers and researchers to study the planet in much greater detail and enable a truly profound understanding of the habitability of this planet. If this can be achieved in a lifetime, the colonization of Mars would not be far away.”

Near the end of NASA’s paper, they used the term “fanciful” to describe how this new project may appear but point to the fact that current magnetosphere research is already being done so that scientists will be able to better understand how to protect astronauts from cosmic radiation. This same research could also teach scientists about shielding Mars as Jim Green, NASA’s Planetary Science Division Director, says.

“It may be feasible that we can get up to these higher field strengths that are necessary to provide that shielding. We need to be able then to also modify that direction of the magnetic field so that it always pushes the solar wind away.”

Hale Crater on Mars shows signs of once being formed by water. [Image by NASA/Getty Images]

Jim Green also explained that NASA’s vision of launching a magnetic shield in space to restore Mars’s atmosphere wouldn’t be an artificial project when it comes to changing the Red Planet’s climate. Instead, scientists will use physics in order to bring about natural changes in the planet so that it could one day be inhabitable and colonized.

Colonizing Mars has been a dream for a long time, so do you think NASA’s latest proposal to launch a magnetic shield in space to restore the Red Planet’s atmosphere will help to make that dream a reality?

[Featured Image by NASA/Getty Images]

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