A NASA Scientist Explained How to Terraform Mars — an Idea That’s a Bit Controversial

Rayna Skiver - Author

Jan. 26 2023, Published 12:35 p.m. ET

How to Terraform Mars
Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ever wonder what life would be like on another planet? Well, you’re not the only one. A retired scientist from NASA explained how we could potentially terraform Mars.

The concept isn’t popular with everyone, but it sure is interesting. Keep reading to learn more about terraforming, what it is, and how we could technically transform a different planet into Earth 2.0.

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What is terraforming?

NASA on Mars: An Illustration of Concept
Source: NASA

The idea of walking around on another planet is weird — it can be hard to wrap your mind around. But of course, if you’ve seen certain movies and shows, you know that it might not be as great or as cool as it sounds.

Terraforming is essentially the process of altering a planet so that it’s habitable for Earth life, according to the National Space Society (NSS). This would involve modifying the atmosphere, temperature, topography, ecology, and volatile components.

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There are three different levels: Para-terraforming, partial terraforming, and full terraforming. The latter would involve extreme modification that would make it possible for humans, plants, and animals to survive without special equipment, the NSS explained.

Completely terraforming a planet would be incredibly difficult, as we lack the necessary technology and public support. Many people are opposed to the idea of altering another planet — and rightly so. After taking a look at what humans have done to our own planet, it’s pretty clear that humans wouldn’t be able to handle the responsibility of taking care of another one.

But that doesn’t stop people from wondering about the possibilities.

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Here’s what an expert had to say about terraforming Mars:

Source: ISTOCK

Retired NASA scientist Jim Green knows a lot about space. According to The New York Times, he joined NASA in 1980 and was most recently the chief scientist of the planetary science division. So, basically, he knows what he’s talking about.

In an interview about his long and impressive career, Green was asked about an idea he shared about terraforming Mars. As per The New York Times, this is what he had proposed in the past: “It might be possible to terraform Mars by placing a giant magnetic shield between the planet and the sun, which would stop the sun from stripping its atmosphere, allowing the planet to trap more heat and warm its climate to make it habitable.”

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Green confirmed this concept and said that it really was possible. The first step of terraforming would make it so a spacesuit is no longer needed, as this would allow for better mobility, he said. Higher pressure and increased temperatures would also make it possible to start growing plants on Mars.

At the beginning of 2022, Green had already been working on a paper on the topic for two years, reported The New York Times. “It’s not going to be well received. The planetary community does not like the idea of terraforming anything,” he said.

And considering the fact that there’s already trash on Mars, it’s hard to disagree with them. We might want to figure things out here on Earth before we move on to somewhere else.

So even though terraforming Mars was thought to be impossible, but is now technically “doable,” that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen anytime soon.

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