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What is Terraforming?

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  • Written By: L. S. Wynn
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
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  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Terraforming is a controversial and currently theoretical science with the aim of transforming planets, moons or other celestial bodies into earth-like entities that could eventually support life.

Mars seems like the most likely candidate since it is more similar to Earth than any other objects in our vicinity. If the dream of introducing life on Mars is to be at all possible, here are some of the hurdles that would have to be addressed:

  • Although we have successfully sent space vehicles to Mars, it is still difficult and expensive to reach.
  • There does not appear to be any liquid water on the surface of Mars.
  • The average surface temperature on Mars is -63C (-81F), although some parts are much warmer.
  • The atmosphere contains virtually no oxygen.

Although terraforming Mars would likely be a lengthy and expensive project, there are some innovative technologies and ideas that could make the process feasible. A genetically engineered plant, for example, could self-propagate and convert the carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere into oxygen. Greenhouse gasses could be generated to raise the surface temperature making Mars more hospitable. Other theorists claim that huge mirrors made out of thin mylar could be positioned to reflect sunlight to warm small regions of Mars. Perhaps self-propagating nanodevices developed by nanotechnology could also aid in the process.

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The theorists ascertain that the Earth at one time was not hospitable to life yet now houses abundant life; couldn't we alter and accelerate the evolution of another planet so that it too could support life? Although terraforming is mostly a part of science fiction, serious and able scientists are beginning to hold conferences and make calculations to determine the feasibility of such an ambitious project.

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