Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Mars, the next stepping stone

In my last post I mentioned the possibility of using a process called “Terra forming” as a possible way to better secure humanity’s future.
Furthermore, a prime candidate within our solar system is within our grasp.

Mars.

The Red Planet right next door has a multitude of exploitable features which can prove to be useful in making the now inhospitable planet, habitable.

In many ways Earth is quite similar to mars. Both planets have polar ice caps, terrestrial in nature and occupy the habitable zone within our atmosphere. However due to Mars only having approximately half the mass of Earth it struggles to hold onto it’s atmosphere, making it the barren red planet we know today.

Venus on the other hand has an atmosphere, is approximately the same size as earth and also just inside the habitable zone or better known as the “Goldilocks zone”

What is the “Goldilocks zone”?
The goldilocks zone is an area space in which liquid water is able to exist on a planet. Type of star, relative temperature and the planets distance from the star are all taken into account and processed to see if whether a planet would be able to hold liquid water, which is thought to be a key ingredient for life to flourish.

earth_solars_system_habitable_zone

Why Mars and not Venus?
From what I’ve said earlier you would think that Venus would be as just a suitable option for the Terra-forming  process, maybe even more suitable than Mars.

Let me go more in depth.

The problem with Venus is that it’s the real life demonstration of a Global Warming extreme.

Thanks to the continued efforts of the active volcanoes on Venus, carbon dioxide is being produced in MASSIVE amounts

The atmosphere is so thick and mainly comprised of carbon dioxide that no heat from the surface can escape, turning the planet essentially into a solar oven with an average temperature of 477 degrees Celsius.

On top of this, The surface pressure on Venus is far too great for anyone on Earth to withstand. with it being approximately 90 times the weight of Earth we’d simply be crushed under the weight.

plantemp

Considering also that it rains sulfuric Acid daily due to all the Sulphur being thrown up from the planet from the volcanoes, with our current technology,Venus poses too great a challenge to transform it into a planet with a surface hospitable for human-kind.

With technology we have now and that will be available to us within the next 10-20 years, a formation of an atmosphere on Mars is definitely a possibility for the future.

If we analyze the terrain of Mars, certain features on the red planet can be seen to have some Earth like traits. Such as naturally forming canals, waterways and basins. Which can only be formed by a flowing liquid, which is believed to be liquid water.

Due to Mars being too small to hold onto its atmosphere however, the planet lost the ability  to hold liquid water.c3c3a7a0-a118-4f7a-951c-a5396d2e3db5-620x372

With evidence to suggest that liquid water has existed on mars before, human-kind can surely figure out how to do it again.

Resources:

[ONLINE] Available at: https://www.knowledgeorb.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Earth_solars_system_habitable_zone. jpg . [Accessed 21 April 2016].

[ONLINE] Available at: http://blipeetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/c3c3a7a0-a118-4f7a-951c-a5396d2e3db5-620×372. jpeg . [Accessed 21 April 2016].

[ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ucar.edu/learn/images/plantemp.gi f . [Accessed 21 April 2016].

Taylor, Fredric W. (2014). “Venus: Atmosphere”. In Tilman, Spohn; Breuer, Doris; Johnson, T. V. encyclopedia of the Solar  (3rd ed.). Oxford: Elsevier Science & Technology.. [Accessed 22 April 2016].

[ONLINE] Available at: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/venusfact.html . [Accessed 23 April 2016].

 

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2 comments on “Mars, the next stepping stone

  1. monamola
    May 5, 2016

    I don’t think the issue is really whether it’s Mars or Venus ? Mars is clearly a planet we can possibly live on Venus is not. There is substantial hardships with living on mars however that has nothing to do with substantial atmosphere. Mars has no Magnetic field, the field on Earth prevents heavy bombardment of harmful UV radiation. This is an overlooked stepping stone as the effects of UV radiation on humans and biologic life are well known and it is not pretty. Another factor to consider is the presence of Perchlorate (http://www.space.com/21554-mars-toxic-perchlorate-chemicals.html), this almost makes the livability of of humans on Mars a arduous endeavor.

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  2. matb1
    May 7, 2016

    Whilst Mars is in this apparent “Goldilocks zone” there are more conditions than just UV and lacking atmosphere that make the task of Terra-forming difficult. The soil on mars is harsh and rocky, but topsoil does contain many compounds that are useful and many of the required macro and micro nutrients that are necessary for the growth of plants. (NASA. (2016). Can Plants Grow with Mars Soil?. [online] Available at: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/can-plants-grow-with-mars-soil [Accessed 7 May 2016].) Whilst these nutrients have been found, they however do not all exist in the concentrations as those here on Earth, or all the required combinations in the same location. It would be imperative to bring fertilizers and ground treatment chemicals to Mars to create conditions for optimal growth. The surface of Mars does however contain other compounds that make growth difficult such as glass like compounds within the powdery soil, as well as the presence of perchlorate chemicals. These perchlorate chemicals are highly toxic to humans as they interfere with the thyroid, but whilst being chemically toxic, with biochemical treatment, such as the potassium perchlorate candles used in 2005, it is useful for chemically generating oxygen in mars. Space.com. (2005). Space Station Crew to Ignite First Oxygen-Generating Candles. [online] Available at: http://www.space.com/1099-space-station-crew-ignite-oxygen-generating-candles.html [Accessed 7 May 2016]. With oxygen generation chemicals on mars’ surface, a closer step to Terra-forming is reached.

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This entry was posted on May 3, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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