Cosmic Quandaries: Tera-forming Mars

A new series of articles which will traverse topics about the universe and humanity’s future in it. This topic: Teraforming Mars.

The future of humans is to the sky. Mars is the likely candidate for human expansion. First colonization would be rough. Yet over decades what could we achieve with Mars? Could there be a thick, luscious atmosphere like here on Earth allowing us to breathe and thrive?

Astrophysicists believe there to have been flowing water on the surface of Mars at one point in time. This water carved meandering basins and river beds over millions if not billions of years. The atmospheric pressure would have to have been significant enough to keep the water in liquid form.

An important aspect to any atmosphere is gravity. Mars doesn’t have significant gravity to hold onto all that atmosphere which we would find comfortable. Without a significant gravity atmospheric pressure wouldn’t build to the point where we would find it pleasant. Much like how water pressure builds the deeper the water gets, so does air pressure. In this case gravity pulls the air molecules towards the Earth and they compact and compact until most of the space is filled with molecules.

The fact that Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field also makes having a significant atmosphere slightly problematic. Solar winds which are charged particles that race out from the sun get deflected by the Earth’s magnetic field. Acting as a protective shield for the Earth’s otherwise vulnerable atmosphere. These particles strip away higher energy particles in the atmosphere dwindling it down until there is nothing that can be taken away.

With any luck if we are able to even colonize Mars let alone terraform it we should have the technology to mitigate these problems. If not then out best bet would be to live in geodesic domes.


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