TheGuyNamedAlan

Mars 'impossible" to terraform

Can Mars be terraformed?  

52 members have voted

  1. 1. Can Mars be terraformed?

    • Yes
      22
    • No
      20
    • It's Elon so anything is possible
      10


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Antarctica:

Along the coastline and on the dwindling shelves, yeah. 60°S corresponds to latitude of Helsinki for example on the northern hemi. It is a long way over ice still. My point above was about the glacier highlands. There are very few research stations, but the few people that stay there over winter are hand selected and stay there over winter. There is no supply during that time and a rescue operation would be extremely dangerous (though it was done) and may strand more people there.

@wumpus got a point, nobody will (can) build a permanent colony there. Assuming that a hand full of scientists and/or military men/women cut off from the outside for 4 months are no colony.

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Given Mars's potential past and present habitability, I think Martian colonization and heavens forbid terraforming has the potential to snuff out one of the greatest scientific discoveries in the history of our species. Imagine discovering Martian life only to watch in real time as Earth extremophiles out-compete with it and drive it to extinction. Mars has far more value as a place of robotic scientific research than it ever will as a "backup planet", especially given that we have the Moon right there in our cosmic backyard, which is far more suited as a "backup" than Mars. There's water ice and natural cryogenic conditions at the poles (perfect for a seed vault), the vacuum conditions make it ideal for in-situ production of solar panels, and it's only a four day trip back in case something goes wrong.

Edited by Nutt007
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1 hour ago, Nutt007 said:

Given Mars's potential past and present habitability, I think Martian colonization and heavens forbid terraforming has the potential to snuff out one of the greatest scientific discoveries in the history of our species. Imagine discovering Martian life only to watch in real time as Earth extremophiles out-compete with it and drive it to extinction. Mars has far more value as a place of robotic scientific research than it ever will as a "backup planet", especially given that we have the Moon right there in our cosmic backyard, which is far more suited as a "backup" than Mars. There's water ice and natural cryogenic conditions at the poles (perfect for a seed vault), the vacuum conditions make it ideal for in-situ production of solar panels, and it's only a four day trip back in case something goes wrong.

The backup idea for colonization isn't really a justification for space colonization, but that's a different topic.

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17 hours ago, Green Baron said:

Hmmm, i cannot precisely define that, though i pride myself of knowing the basics of pelaeontology. The point is, we do not know the exact conditions that led to the emergence life on earth. We have a picture, the elements, a range of probable conditions and locations, reasonable suggestions of possible ways, but no hard measurements because the stuff is gone. That is as sorry as i am about it, not precise, at least not precise enough to define what is necessary elsewhere for a similar thing to happen. We simply have to wait until we find some. Which is highly improbable but not impossible, there i agree.

This is precisely why I said "habitable != inhabited. Habitable just means that we could dump some microbial spores, and a microbial community could proliferate there. It doesn't mean it had the right conditions for abiogensis"

This is a matter of terminology. When most people say habitable, they mean capable of sustaining life. The ability/conditions to produce life from non-life is another thing entirely.

Something can have conditions in which pre-existing life could thrive, but not have the conditions that could lead to the formation of life.

An we can precisely define condition where life can exist - defining the boundary conditions we can't, but we can definitely specify a set of conditions where life can exist. Have you heard of "minimal media"?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_medium#Minimal_media

We also know precisely out sun's spectrum, and our atmosphere composition... actually, in the lab we can use artificial light. We can also create sealed biospheres, in fact, they can be novelty gifts:

https://eco-sphere.com/

(unfortunately, the shrimp in those spheres rarely reproduce, so they often suffer local extinctions, but life inside continues on without any gas or nutrient exchange with the outside world)

 

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The initial conditions need further development, coarsely said. If there are only vents, right temperature and nutrients, things may start but soon suffocate on their own dirt.

Again, I'm not talking about life starting, merely the conditions where life could exist if it was placed there.

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Pour microbes on a the surface of mars, and they would thrive (*) ? Really ? Idk ... i am almost sure that that would not work. I am not a believer in panspermia. Count me to the abiogenesis side

Now? no... even if RSL have a liquid brine, the water would have to be saltier than anything on Earth is known to be able to tolerate. Supposedly they found an under-the-ice lake on one of mars' poles... I don't know how salty it is, or what energy sources are available. At the moment Mars has very little accessible nitrogen. It may be quite uninhabitable now, even under the surface.

However, in the past, we know it had liquid water on the surface that wasn't too salty and was of a benign pH. Water: check, Sunlight/energy source: check (keep in mind, photosynthesis on Earth can support growth at tiny fractions of the intensity of direct sunlight, so the fainter sunligh on Mars is not a problem), minerals: check,

There were clearly times in Mars' history when life could have survived there if it was placed there. It was habitable in the past, but I'm still leaning towards uninhabited despite being habitable.

Also, panspermia just moves the problem of abiogenesis to somewhere else. I'm on the abiogenesis side too. That said, its not completely unreasonable to think that microbes could be transferred from one planet to another within a solar system by ejecta. I'm not talking about true PANspermia on a universe or even galactic scale, but very localized transfer within inner solar systems (or perhaps moon systems around gas giants, if life bearing moons exist).

There was a window of time in the Early solar system where Venus, Earth, and Mars may have all had oceans at the same time (Venus is much more speculative because there is so little data, and so little evidence would survive, so Venus' early oceans are speculative, but they may have lasted up to a billion years, meaning that it has been without oceans for about 3.5 billion years).

In such a scenario, an early solar system with lots of collisions still ongoing, and 3 inner planets with liquid water on their surface... if life arose on one (we know it was on Earth for at least about the last half of the period of time when Earth, Mars, and probably Venus had water on their surface), the idea of one of these planets "contaminating" the others isn't so far fetched

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I suppose it depends on your definition of terraform. Do i think we can make Mars into a green breathable atmosphere planet like earth? No. Definitely not. Mars is a nearly totally dead planet and the logistics of 'fixing' it are far far beyond our technology.

However, there's no reason we can't build livable habitats, probably underground and eventually get a couple million people there. Or at least enough to sustain our species.

Further, while i'm a huge SpaceX fan, Musk's overconfidence bugs the hell out of me. We have NEVER tried to colonize another planet to bank so heavily on the fact that we can just generate fuel there with no small scale test concerns me. He's putting a whole lot of eggs in one basket.

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Spoiler

The Earth Terraforming Facilities are also commonly known as penal labour camps.

 

Edited by kerbiloid

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