The Mars Recipe
I was told there is a lot of ice in space, small crystals. These crystals could be swept up by robots much like the floor cleaner and lawn mower robots we can buy for our homes. The robots could deposit the water onto the planet of Mars, then turn around and go find more ice in planned routes, looking across the elliptic plus looking in the vertical as well. As long as it takes keep adding water to Mars, keeping track of the amounts.
Having more water isn't enough. Mars needs an atmosphere to be able to retain heat so the average temperature is close to that of Earth. The ratio of gases, e.g. 21% oxygen, 0.03% carbon dioxide, 78% nitrogen, need to closely match what we have on Earth as well, but we may have to adjust the gas ratio so we can retain more heat to compensate for the lesser amount of sunlight Mars receives since it is further from the Sun than the Earth. Perhaps we could put a Mylar reflector/collector behind Mars that would beam additional energy to the surface. The reflector would have to travel in orbit around the sun but be free of Mars rotation so it remained behind the planet, like a giant reflector telescope concave mirror, further from the sun, focusing light and infrared to the surface.
Mars will need lots of nitrogen. It can be collected with the water robots, nitrogen is the 7th most abundant element in space. The rocks on Mars do not hold much nitrogen so it looks like space would be our best bet. Nitrogen is only one of the needed elements. We could build an element processor like a gasoline refinery, but in Mars orbit, made to separate the elements gathered by our space sweeping robots into individual quantities that are measured and then injected into the Mars ecosystem. We could slowly raise the atmospheric gases to their target percentages without flooding the system with too much of one element or another like oxygen that could be dangerous. Any elements left over that would cause an imbalance could be shipped to the earth’s moon, or left behind in Mars orbit for use in orbital laboratories.
The water has to melt before we can accurately measure how much we have added to Mars. Like Earth we want to balance land and water into a workable environment. Hopefully after our new atmosphere is in place Mars will begin to warm. As long as the average temperature at the equator is above freezing we should see new oceans forming. The equator’s warmth will then be absorbed by the rest of the planet within the currents of the oceans.
After a time it will be evident where the best place to grow trees will be, where ever the rains fall. Tree seeds from Earth can finally be put to use on Mars, each species planted in accordance with its previous growing conditions on Earth. Trees and grasses need to be planted as soon as the rains begin to fall, so the topsoil can be held in place by roots.
Seeds can be made somewhat sterile and still germinate. Animals carry germs, parasites, and viruses; they cannot be sterilized completely, only partially. If the only animal introduced into the Martian ecosystem is man then only the germs we carry within us will propagate on Mars. No cows, chickens, sheep, we might become vegan vegetarians. The diseases of Earth would be left behind. No malaria, cholera, or aids would be found, and the screening process of Mars inhabitants would be very thorough. Perhaps a long quarantine processes for each possible mars family would be necessary to insure they carry no TB, influenza, no unwanted germs or viruses.
Can man take on such a long term goal? The amount of time to rebuild the Mars atmosphere could take centuries. We are used to things taking 10 years. How can you show a profit if it takes 400 years to complete? You can’t sell plots of land on Mars, you can only begin the project hoping that it continues to get funding long, long into the future. The Panama Canal could be compared to it; the obvious dream of linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans was great. The investment of digging the Panama Canal could be compared to the investment of establishing Mars as prime realty. Billions can live on Mars after the preliminary terraforming is complete. No disease, no war, just farming, education, and child rearing etc. It would be a new Eden. Marsquakes and weather would be the only enemy. What a promise to the people today to in hopes of raising taxes to afford the transformation of Mars. The ultimate segregation: Ok, you can have Earth; we’ll go live on Mars, kaput!
© 2008 Brian L Hughes