An ex-NASA chief has said that Mars could be made habitable for humans by installing a magnetic forcefield around the red planet.
Mars is the most plausible candidate to be made habitable out of all the planets in the solar system, according to Dr Jim Green.
The first item on the agenda for scientists would be to stop the Sun’s rays from stripping Mars’ atmosphere, which is already 100 times thinner than Earth’s.
This would allow it to trap more heat, and the raise in temperature would eventually make the planet hotter and wetter, and more primed for vegetation.
The magnetic field would also shield the planet’s delicate atmosphere from potentially devastating solar storms.
Dr Green told the New York Times that if the magnetosphere could be restored, it may develop a thicker atmosphere, which could result in a warmer climate and the ability for water retention on its surface.
Dr Green envisions an artificial magnetic field being supported by a closed electric circuit.
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Following a rousing speech, the Lad Bible reports that he said: "The solar system is ours, let's take it.
"And that, of course, includes Mars. But for humans to be able to explore Mars, together with us doing science, we need a better environment."
SpaceX founder Elon Musk has long stated that he aims to colonise Mars by 2050.
The world’s richest man has put a timeframe on his ambitions to begin the process: “Worst case, ten years,” he told podcast host Lex Fridman. “We need to be a multi-planet species.”
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Astronaut boots aside, Dr Green suggests it may be a while before civilians can make the trip.
Forming an entirely new atmosphere for Mars could take up to 700 million years by some estimates, though NASA is still working on the science.
Dr Green said: "The increase in pressure causes an increase in temperature. We have not calculated exactly what the new equilibrium will be and how long it will take."
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