Mars seems to be humanity’s best bet for a colony outside Earth, though the Red Planet is notoriously inhospitable due to a lack of atmosphere and a barren landscape. Science, however, might be well on its way to a fix for that. Researchers at NASA proposed creating a giant magnetic shield around the planet that would create an atmosphere slightly more hospitable to humans, enabling our species to colonize it.
The magnetic shield, presented last week at the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop in Washington, D.C., would protect the planet from the solar winds that have blasted its atmosphere away over time.
“This situation then eliminates many of the solar wind erosion processes that occur within the planet’s ionosphere and upper atmosphere, allowing the Martian atmosphere to grow in pressure and temperature over time,” researchers said in a paper on the subject.
That growth in pressure and temperature would, ideally, make Mars suitable for human life.
Researchers noted that although the plan is hypothetical at this point, a small scale magnetosphere that operates on a similar premise does exist and could serve as the model for an immense shield.
“If this can be achieved in a lifetime, the colonization of Mars would not be far away,” researchers said.
Scientists and private citizens alike have made no secret of their determination to colonize the Red Planet as soon as possible. Former President Barack Obama announced at the end of his presidency in 2016 a “clear goal” to get humans to Mars by sometime in the 2030s. Billionaire entrepreneur and founder of SpaceX Elon Musk announced his own plan to colonize the planet by way of a sophisticated and unique technology called the SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System.
In January, the United Arab Emirates announced it intended to be the first place to build a city on Mars within 100 years. Dubbed Mars 2117, the UAE said the city would be “Chicago-sized” with an average population of about 600,000.