Terraforming Mars in 50 Years with Large Orbital Mirrors, Bacteria and Factories

The McKay-Zubrin plan for terraforming Mars in 50 years was cited by Elon Musk.

Orbital mirrors with 100 km radius are required to vaporize the CO2 in the south polar cap. If manufactured of solar sail-like material, such mirrors would have a mass on the order of 200,000 tonnes. If manufactured in space out of asteroidal or Martian moon material, about 120 MWe-years of energy would be needed to produce the required aluminum.

The use of orbiting mirrors is another way for hydrosphere activation. For example, if the 125 km radius reflector discussed earlier for use in vaporizing the pole were to concentrate its power on a smaller region, 27 TW would be available to melt lakes or volatilize nitrate beds. This is triple the power available from the impact of a 10 billion tonne asteroid per year, and in all probability would be far more controllable. A single such mirror could drive vast amounts of water out of the permafrost and into the nascent Martian ecosystem very quickly. Thus while the engineering of such mirrors may be somewhat grandiose, the benefits to terraforming of being able to wield tens of TW of power in a controllable way would be huge.

Energy for making the aluminum can use near-term multimegawatt nuclear power units, such as the 5 MWe modules now under consideration for NEP spacecraft.

Westinghouse is researching a small roughly 35-ton 25-megawatt Megapower reactor called the Vinci molten salt reactor.

Remove Poison Percholorate from Martian Soil

There is also a need to remove the poison perchlorate from the Martian soil. This could be done with the right bacteria. The right earth bacteria can survive on Mars and breakdown the toxins.

Alternative – bacteria to make Ammonia and methane

A possible improvement to the ammonia asteroidal impact method would use bacteria which can metabolize nitrogen and water to produce ammonia. If an initial greenhouse condition were to be created by ammonia object importation, it may be possible that a bacterial ecology could be set up on the planet’s surface that would recycle the nitrogen resulting from ammonia photolysis back into the atmosphere as ammonia, thereby maintaining the system without the need for further impacts. Similar schemes might also be feasible for cycling methane, another short-lived natural greenhouse gas which might be imported to the planet.

Alternative- One gigawatt reactor to make halocarbon – CF4 to trigger warming effect

Greenhousing Mars via the manufacture of halocarbon gases on the planet’s surface may well be the most practical option. Total surface power requirements to drive planetary warming using this method are calculated and found to be on the order of 1000 MWe, and the required times scale for climate and atmosphere modification is on the order of 50 years.

The amount of a greenhouse gas needed to heat a planet is roughly proportional to the square of the temperature change required, driving Mars into a runaway greenhouse with an artificial 4 K temperature rise only requires about 1/200th the engineering effort that would be needed if the entire 55 K rise had to be engineered by brute force.

The dynamics of the regolith gas-release process are only approximately understood, and the total available reserves of CO2 won’t be known until human explorers journey to Mars to make a detailed assessment.

Large domed cities and greenhouses should be built on Mars while we wait

There is a new study which indicates that domed cities and colonies of various sizes could have the right temperature for liquid water with a 2-3 centimeter dome of silica aerogel without additional heating. They would heat up under the dome by 50 degrees kelvin without any heaters. Just the greenhouse effect would heat the area under the dome.

Regions on the surface of Mars could be modified in the future to allow life to survive there with much less infrastructure or maintenance than via other approaches. The creation of permanently warm regions would have many benefits for future human activity on Mars, as well as being of fundamental interest for astrobiological experiments and as a potential means to facilitate life-detection effort.

Large Domes Have Been Made on Earth

Mars has one-third of the gravity of Earth so making larger domes will be easier on Mars.

Singapore’s new national sports stadium (completed in 2014) is the world’s largest free-spanning dome, measuring 310-meters (1017 feet) across, and its roof can be opened or closed to suit the tropical climate.

The 55,000 capacity National Stadium has a 19,500 sq-meter (4.8 acres) retractable roof, which can open or close in just 20 minutes. The roof is made with a multi-layer ETFE pillow. The moving roof incorporates a matrix of LED lights, making it one of the largest addressable LED screens in the world.

The EFTE for the roof is a 0.15mm to 0.25mm-thick Fluon ETFE fluoropolymer film. Fluon ETFE Film is made of a high-performance thermoplastic fluoropolymer, and features excellent transparency, non-stick and insulation properties, and resistance to heat, chemicals and weather.

The Seagaia Ocean Dome (measured 300 meters in length and 100 meters in wide) was one of the world’s largest indoor waterparks, located in Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan.

Previously NASA scientist Jim Green proposed a concept of placing a magnetic dipole satellite with a 1-2 tesla magnet placed in an orbit between Mars the Sun would allow Mars to restore its atmosphere. Simulations indicate that within years, the planet would be able to achieve half the atmospheric pressure of Earth. The magnetic field would also protect Mars colonists from some solar radiation.

Without solar winds stripping away at the planet, frozen carbon dioxide at the ice caps on either pole would begin to sublimate (change from a solid into a gas) and warm the equator. Ice caps would begin to melt to form an ocean.

The atmosphere of Mars is relatively thin and has a very low surface pressure.
Silica aerogel can mimics Earth’s atmospheric greenhouse effect to warm Mars to a temperature where the ice melts and Earth plants can survive. Through modeling and experiments, the researchers show that a 2- to 3-centimeter-thick shield of silica aerogel could transmit enough visible light for photosynthesis, block hazardous ultraviolet radiation, and raise temperatures underneath permanently above the melting point of water, all without the need for any internal heat source.

Regions of the Martian surface could be made habitable with a material — silica aerogel — that mimics Earth’s atmospheric greenhouse effect. Through modeling and experiments, the researchers show that a two to three-centimeter-thick shield of silica aerogel could transmit enough visible light for photosynthesis, block hazardous ultraviolet radiation, and raise temperatures underneath permanently above the melting point of water, all without the need for any internal heat source.

Nature Astronomy – Enabling Martian habitability with silica aerogel via the solid-state greenhouse effect

There was a National Space Agency study for 25-mile wide domed city on the moon. A similar scale domed city could be built on Mars.

121 thoughts on “Terraforming Mars in 50 Years with Large Orbital Mirrors, Bacteria and Factories”

  1. There are places on the Earth with up to 20-30rem per year natural radiation – no discernible health effects were found so far.

    And there’s a know case of human getting 6400 rem over ~20 years (over 300 rem/yer) and not developing any cancer: lookup Albert Stevens.

  2. Dang! That was my first question and from what I read above, thought it had it covered. “Through modeling and experiments, the researchers show that a two to three-centimeter-thick shield of silica aerogel could transmit enough visible light for photosynthesis, block hazardous ultraviolet radiation…” I thought they had smuggled cosmic ray modelling into that UV radiation statement as well. I knew it took a few km’s of atmosphere or a few meters of water, but a few cm’s of super-material? I just didn’t know… dang.

  3. Would super-greenhouse gases like PFC’s have anything that absorbed them on Mars? Would there be a chemical reaction in the regolith or something else that gobbled them up faster than we could make them? There does not seem to be as much CO2 trapped in the regolith as Zubrin had modelled from older data. https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2017/pdf/1193.pdf It’s a shame, because I thought all we had to do was cook up super greenhouse gases for 50 years and we’d reach “Blue Mars” which had enough atmospheric pressure to protect everyone on the planet from micrometeorites, cosmic rays and solar radiation; walk around in normal clothes but with a breather mask, activate the water-cycle and even start farming on the surface.

  4. Did you notice how many times this article repeats itself, especially about the aerogel? Did it go through an editing process?

    With that sort of sloppiness, I wonder how trustworthy the content is.

  5. Install a dwarf planet or two in an orbit around Mars to get a magnetic field and some volcanoes going. That should help towards creating an atmosphere.

  6. So just to understand. We have issues with the earth orbit pollution. Now we might start on polluting mars orbit with space debris to.

  7. Does nayone know how they produce miles of aerogel and cote the surface evenly. I thought that stuff was difficult to produce.

  8. There is really no need to terraform Mars. Because of the low pressure atmosphere and the lack of a strong magnetic field it would be best to live underground.

  9. But, the initial problem was water, on this line in the blog. Mars is a planet, so things will be hard, if you need to be there for some reason.

  10. Both cosmic rays and solar wind are mostly protons and other nuclei. Free neutrons have a ~15 minute half-life, so you don’t see them very far from a nuclear reactor (or certain radioactive isotopes).

  11. I think he meant that there’s too much ice (in the northern continents) to use all of it as rocket fuel (as an alternative to dumping it in the ocean, which would raise the sea level as you pointed out).

    But the whole idea isn’t actually useful (even if it was practical), because even if you could turn it all to fuel, when you burn that fuel you get the water back. Same with fuel cells.

  12. If you only want to use it as an energy multiplier, there may be some merit to it, but it’s still not easy (and as I understand, not necessary). However, if you want to use it to fill the hydrosphere, that’s a different story.

    The bigger bodies are much more difficult to move, while the smaller ones have relatively negligible amounts of water. Even a km-sized body is only a fraction of a cubic km of water (since it’s not a cube, never 100% water, and not always if ever at full density). We need millions of those if we want to make a noticeable difference to a planet’s hydrosphere. We don’t have enough nukes in our entire arsenal to do that.

    If you think about it, moving the mass equivalent of a whole planet’s hydrosphere is a Kardashev 1 level megaproject. We’re nowhere near that level yet.

    Compared to that, exploding a few nukes at the poles just to get a little outgassing to start a self-reinforcing greenhouse effect is literally orders of magnitude easier.

  13. Somehow no. It would not block the light at the poles. The axis tilt of mars and the angle at which sunlight would be reflected would be ideal.

  14. The cost to weight alone would bankrupt companies to send it from earth to mars. Unless they find a lead mine there. Although If the were to send that much weighted material it would solve many issues.

  15. Baloons will block light from hitting the ground. You need orbital mirror in geostationary orbit and not on phobos.

  16. When you look at silica aerogel in sunlight it looks light blue just because it scatteres blue light just like our atmosphere. The same will happen on Mars so looking through a dome with silica aerogel layer will be like looking at blue sky.

  17. But far more water, so easier per nuke. Comets (or wet asteroids) supply the energy and water, not the tiny nukes.

  18. Starting with the same nukes, practice redirecting comets to hit Mars (rather than missing the Earth). The water added will be *new* to Mars, and the heat generated by the impact will be greater than the energy of the nukes alone.

  19. At this point I think it makes more sense to start colonizing a lavatube (dozens of kilometers large, a few hundred meters wide, protected from radiation, meteorites and poisonous regolith, a warm constant temperature, …) and leave the surface for a future with better materials.

  20. So, plenty for rocket fuel and even large settlement, but not enuf for atmos?. Even then, bringing water *to* a planet seems easy compared to nuking it!

  21. Earth has nearly 1400 million cubic km, per wikipedia. On Earth, 5 million would be a rounding error. To put that into further perspective, Earth’s total surface area is only 3.5 times that of Mars.

  22. The reasons aren’t physics based, “logical” reasons you’re looking for, they’re deeper than that. The psychological effect of having an open green space to visit will do wonders for colonist morale. People are animals after all. Whether that is a dome or physically outside, doesn’t matter so long as it’s sufficiently large. You could do it inside, but at the end of the day it’s false. You need to think outside your box a bit mate.

    The motives are exactly the opposite of insane, they’re the cure for insanity.

  23. Phobos is small. The square miles on half a sphere add up though. It was more than i initially thought. Plus to build around the outer diameter would be more. It would be a fraction of a percent better for mars and last next to forever. Which is so far better than most options I’ve heard so far. It would be a start to something anyway. As phobos reflects next to near no light as is. Even our moon is not that reflective, still seems to shine to us though.

  24. Heavier shirt and a weighted helmet with neck support. Would make some of it seem like same gravity on earth.

  25. Reflective balloons tethered to the poles. Aerogel near the equator and stategically placed reflective material on phobos tidally locked side. Are some ways to help start the terraforming of mars. More light more heat.

  26. Quite true. Even on Earth, people living in cities with near perpetual cloud cover have issues with depression and vitamin D deficiency. Though, honestly, GREAT weather for writing horror. 😉

    I suppose that, under an opaque dome on Mars, some kind of constantly changing rendering of the sky would be useful. Though…eh… I’m not sure how effective it would be in terms of happiness level. I’ve seen a few studies that show blue light as having positive effects on mood and Vitamin D production. So maybe adding these things to a dome would have great benefits. Year-round seasonal affective disorder wouldn’t be fun

  27. Brian, the Solar Wind Redirection Satellite might be a good thing, but Mars doesn’t lose that much atmospheric mass via the Solar Wind that it’ll build up to half an atmosphere in a few years. Maybe half the current atmosphere in a million?

  28. Solar shades may or may not help mitigate Earth’s issues, but the Moon is a good suggestion for making them – at least to start with.

  29. From what I’ve read, micrometeorites wouldn’t be a significant danger to large habitats on the Martian surface.

    But even if it turned out to be potentially hazardous, a surrounding water dome could be replaced with a transparent ice dome. Lunar biodomes would require about 46 centimeters of regolith to protect them from micrometeorites. So a lunar biodome protected from micrometeorites with ice would require less than 92 centimeters of ice.

  30. You mean destroying coral reefs in international waters to make military installations? I don’t know why anyone would object…

  31. Actual observations show that shorelines around the world are not shrinking. Same with islands. Sorry to run dystopian fantasies!

  32. What I have read is that only around 10% of micrometeorites reach the ground on Earth, but in doing so they loss much more mass than just up to 10% of the original mass.

    Micrometeorites are not a threat on Earth, as you say thanks to the atmospheric friction, but they will be on Mars.

    I wouldn’t want to be on a Martian dome protected just by 2cm of aerogel.

  33. mankind as we know it will never survive on Mars. Use the money to develop planet Earth so we can survive on it for another 10000 years!

  34. Mars has a total of 5 million cubic km of water in three forms: Ice caps at the poles, permafrost at high but not polar latitudes, and hydrated minerals elsewhere. For example, Curiosity found 2% water in soil samples in Gale Crater, which is equatorial.

    How much of the water is liquid is unknown. The internal temperature of Mars goes up with depth, so there may be some deep water if the ground is porous below the permafrost layers.

  35. It might be possible to use solar or nuclear to electrolyse water and create rocket fuel, or use it for fuel cell’s.
    On the other hand, I suspect that there may be far too much water frozen as ice for that to be a practical idea.

  36. Well, building new islands may actually be a reasonable idea. Problem is, where do we get the material from, without messing up other environments?

    Otherwise, I fully agree with the idea of making more land, or even, creating artificial barrier islands to protect existing coastline from tsunami or ocean level rises.

    It may also be a good idea to have a few artificial islands that can be used as sea-ports and rocket launch pads, especially if Elon Musk wants 1 million people to live on Mars, and people are going to live and work in space. We might want to have a large space-port, capable of servicing dozens of mega-rockets every day.

  37. There are 7.5 billion of us. We can do more than one thing at a time.

    We *are* investing in saving the Earth, to the tune of ~$250 billion a year. That’s for renewable energy. Maybe we should do more, but it is not like we are doing nothing.

  38. Attempting to terraform Mars is misguided and naive, and unethical until we have mastered geoengineering Earth to correct the massive damage. Use much of the same tech to build space solar and/or shades to geoengineer Earth’s climate back 100+ years. The moon is more likely to be useful as an industrial base for this purpose.

  39. Heh heh, we can’t even keep the Corps out of our national forests and maybe even our national parks much longer,

    Australian and New Zealand Army Corps?
    New South Wales Rum Corps?
    US Marine Corps?
    Royal Flying Corps?

    Or did you mean corpse?

  40. I list moving all the nations in the middle east 1000 km apart and approve of the Chinese building more islands and you are trying to work out whether my comment is reasonable or not?

  41. Large cone shape reflective balloons at the poles of mars could shed continuous light on the poles. Allowing more light for solar panels to convert to electricity to set up bases on the poles of mars to then melt the Co2 ice for a better atmosphere and to maintain the balloons to then put up conicle reflective stainless buildings to perpetuate the continuous reflective legacy in conjunction with the balloons.

  42. Your completely filled dome sounds very realistic, and different the way Mars society will be different from ours. One small correction: the dome, at least when it’s finished, won’t need to be supported by the buildings. It will need to be heavy enough it doesn’t explode out.

  43. More likely, domes that heavily covered and that full of radiating humans will be needing to get rid of heat, not import more.

  44. However, the numerous areas of localized magnetism field embedded in the crust were found by the 1996 Mars Global Surveyer satellite to be nearly as strong at the surface as is the magnetic field around Earth, surprisingly. Strong enough that the atmosphere bulges up above them because the solar winds don’t strip it off. So a habitat built in one of these areas would experience much less radiation. There are many of them and they are quite large: about 50 km wide by up to 2,000 km long. The trick would simply be to find one with the lowest altitude and with water ice available. https://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2000/12/15_mars.html

  45. If you told me you want to green Sahara desert I would consider it reasonable but warming the northern continents is a nonstarter since it would raise sea levels by melting the ice.

  46. There is a bunch of old babushkas living in Chernobul without any ill effects.  There are places on earth with high radiation levels where people live.  There are jobs like people who have to fly for a living and uranium mine workers who get higher radiation levels…  People who smoke put themselves at much higher risk of cancer than very high radiation exposure would produce. Some food for thought.  People can tolerate higher levels especially people in the second half of their lives.

  47. Who told you we have to have 1G?  We do not.  Biology adapts to what it has to work with.  Also, really effective antioxidants reduce DNA damage by blocking the oxidants which is one of the mechanism DNA gets damaged.

  48. Mars’ sky is red because Mars rock has iron oxide and is actually rusty, this article explains : https://www.universetoday.com/22580/why-is-mars-red/
    However, you can see some blue at sunset or when the martian wind is not kicking up surface dust (rare).
    There are some pictures supposedly of Mars sky showing blue, but they turn out to be fake or even Earth.

  49. While robotics & genetic modification may negate the requirement for terraforming it still adds a layer of redundancy to any future civilization. I see robotics & genetic engineering as more important but still do not oppose terraforming.

  50. It would be extremely foolish to confine our species solely to the Earth. There are all kinds of threats on Earth that could end human civilization: asteroid impact, comet impact, thermonuclear war, biological war, etc.

  51. Micrometeorites also race through the Earth’s atmosphere with only about 10% of their mass after frictional heating. Martian micrometeorites are only about twice as frequent as they are on Earth but only about 12% have significant mass reductions while penetrating the martian atmosphere.

  52. I think these topics are very speculative and looks to me as 50’s SciFi. I think that first of all we need NOW to invest deeply into save the Earth, the beautiful planet, the Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot”. This come first. All the fantasy about colonization Mars (or better the asteroids) are secondary, and it will take centuries…

  53. You cannot compensate for DNA damage with antioxidants. DNA damage invokes apoptosis, then either cell replacement or cell loss – in any case, early death due to the inescapable Hayflick limit. Oh, don’t forget about cancer – apoptosis is not fail-safe.

    For long-term space habitation (and I include Mars in “space”), radiation shielding should be equivalent to terran atmosphere. That is not so hard, even shielding from galactic radiation: 20~30 meters of rock, less for lighter materials with neutron absorbers, i.e. water, hydrocarbons and polymers, especially with a little added boron. But rock does that too, it is in situ and free. So, Martians will have to love to dig, and forget that nuking nonsense.

    On low gravity, you are right – that will ruin bodies. That is why the whole idea of “colonisation” is misconceived. Using Mars, doing things on Mars – yes and yes. But habitation has to be in orbit, on 1g stations that are rad-shielded as described above.

  54. Project a blue sky.

    Reflectors can shine sunlight inside prepped lava tubes for rad-protection, while reflectors are light.

  55. “problem with mars is lack of hydrogen atoms”
    Actually no.
    The lower gravity may or may not be a problem for human health.

  56. “raising children on Mars”
    I would want to raise some experimental animals at 0.4 g before raising human children under that condition. We don’t have any data on the health effects on humans of gravity levels between 0 & 1 g. Until we have such data we don’t know whether we can have long term settlement of eg: Mars. We could however, build rotating space habitats to have 1 g acceleration & enough shielding to bring radiation levels into the range we get on the earth’s surface.

  57. I don’t want to rain on your parade. But the one issue with Mars is the low gravity. Yes, I saw your circulating trains. But I don’t most people would want to live on something like that, Low gravity is a bigger problem that radiation. We can radiationharden ourselves by using anti-oxidant compounds and occassional celullar reprograming (which you will want to do for anti-aging anyways). The low gravity is an unknown issue. Can we live in 0.38 g without problems?

  58. Assessed property value in Florida is $2.3trillion(2018)
    $950.5 billion goes into the drink after a 10ft rise, a 20ft rise would make things ugly. Why is this sort of thing desirable?

    Surely there are better ways to improve your investments in Alaska and northern Canada than by ruining things everywhere most people currently live.

  59. Domes flooded with deadly radiation make no sense at all.

    Clearly, a martian colony will need autonomous robots to mine, refine, manufacture, build, and maintain. So the robots will be self replicating, grow exponentially, and build the cities and farms. That will take a **lot** of mining. So build the cities inside the mines. It’s free space. There’s no radiation. And with many doors in the connecting tunnels, you won’t lose all your air if there’s an accident in one place. A dome is worse on all fronts.

    Will it be claustrophobic? Of course not. Think shopping malls: big open spaces, lots of light, trees and plants and fountains. And no windows.

    Want windows? Do what some cruise lines do for the cabins below the water line: create large “windows” that are actually video screens. And project a “sky” on the ceiling.

  60. If you melt Greenland’s ice cover alone to make it productive, wouldn’t the resulting 20ft sea level rise make even more elsewhere, existing and productive land unproductive?

  61. Well clearly there is an entire continent and many northern lands that’re completely useless because it’s covered with ice. We’ve got to melt that away for start.

    Secondly, I think we can all agree that life would be better if every nation in the middle east has at least a thousand km of ocean between them and all their neighbours. And a lot of Europe is probation for that too.

    Lastly, people love small tropical islands, so we should have a lot more of those. China has started work on this valuable project.

  62. Until the first rock falls from the martian sky. Which happens all the time due to thin atmosphere (technically, it is vacuum).

    More importantly, the motive is lunatic (marsitic?). Literally move heaven and earth to… what? take off the shoes? chill in the Martian sun? take a nap under the Martian sky? Seriously, the sanity check fails on each and every point.

    Want a colony on Mars? Go ahead, dig down, build up, spawl around — the land is free. If in situ construction tech is available, there is no limit to what could be made on Mars. The question is: what for?

    Want to roam on Mars? Build a suit, perhaps Starcraft marine-style, perhaps Jabba Hutt’s sail barge, whatever — and roam to your heart’s content. Why glass the sky for that humble purpose? Gigawatt reactors and mountains of fluorite to make the dumb ass colonist feel warm outside is insanity on cosmic scale.

    The motives are wrong, corrupt, insane.

  63. Heh heh, we can’t even keep the Corps out of our national forests and maybe even our national parks much longer, and there’s a heck of a lot more “natural wonders” there then the dead rock Mars. If we’re going to go to Mars at all, we’re going to use every sf available, which, given that there’s no oceans at present, is just about as much land as there is on Earth.

  64. It might be cheaper and easier for 3D printing robots to just incorporate the “dome” onto the top edges of the multi-story buildings. If you plan it out right in advance, there’s no reason you can’t have 10 square (actually round) blocks of buildings, ranging from 1 story on the outer rim to 10 stories in the center where the dome is highest. Without much else to support, the buildings could support the dome too.
    You also need the dome to protect against Mars’ wind and solar storms. Underground may still be better for a while. That’s how they do it on the semi-drama/semi-documentary National Geographic show Mars, which Musk has been interviewed on too. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/tv/mars/

  65. You could do a light version of that with a smaller diameter train where people would spend few hours a day relaxing, or doing some work while getting the healthful G-s.  I think this half measure would be enough although I tend to think even this will not be required.  Human biology will almost for sure adapt.  Maybe for people who want to go back to Terra they would want to maintain their shape by spending more time on the circle merry-go round.

  66. Strategically placed reflective material on phobos tidally locked side. Thats what I’ve been saying for years. In time orbiting mirrors will need lots of maintenance and supplies and fuel to hold its orbit. Not to mention continuously being pegged by mirco meteors. On phobos it’s far side would act as a natural shield for most micrometeorites. Phobos has been there a long time, and it will continue to be there for a long time. On its low gravity mirrors could even be built several kilometers off to the side of it.

  67. My big concern with the Mars endeavor, as opposed to O Neal/Cole type habitats, besides setting oneself up at the bottom of a gravity well, is the unknown effect of 38 percent of earth gravity. Even if Martian’s can deal with the G’s, the difference between Mars and Earth Gravity will be similar to that of Jupiter and Earth.It’s possible that something like a tracked centrifuge will be needed for residential areas.


    If that is the case, it’s possible that the forested dome above would be accurate, with the trees mainly working to recycle air and make it ‘pine fresh’, perhaps with some supplemental animal husbandry going on. The residential areas would be stacked railroad tracks, or maglev rails going around the edge of the dome and the central circular structure. In the lower mars gravity they might be scaled up so that the residential areas in aggregate approach a Stanford torus in size, with of course all the attendant problems of maintenance and power requirements.

    Industrial areas, of course, would be outside the domes.

  68. Are you saying that making large domes is more expensive per sq. metre than excavating tunnels? Because I’d like to see some numbers on that.

    Here on Earth it doesn’t work out that way. Even underground stuff is cheaper if you do cut and fill rather than tunnelling, at least to a depth of 10s of metres.

  69. Shanghai is on the coast. Depending on the wind direction it is often clear with blue skies.

    You might be correct if you named Beijing.

  70. You should visit Las Vegas … they have a casino where they paint the ceiling with clouds… it looks real but it’s entirely indoors… (actually, the Chinese have that too in their “Las Vegas island off HK”…(but shhhsh..don’t tell the Americans they have been ripped off..)) ok I’m just being a smart ass American… I think mars needs a casino like that… 😉

  71. redundancy… redundancy… redundancy…. you have two backup nuclear power plants waiting on the wings to pickup if primary fails…. that’s what you need for colony of 100,000….

  72. Seems we are getting the cart before the horse here. The easiest and most necessary planet to terraform is the Earth. By easy I don’t mean with today’s technology. But 50 years down the road it will be a piece of cake.

  73. Would you now? I will see if I can get you a speaking engagement at the U.N. general meeting. What should I tell them your qualifications are?

  74. Yep, no SoCal idyllic neighborhoods nor pastoral scenes on Mars in the foreseeable future.

    But I think there will be gardens and greenhouses, though, even if it’s to show the owner is really wealthy or built to raise the worker’s spirits.

  75. Biodomes on Mars will still need to be protected from cosmic radiation.

    Radiation levels on Mars range from 8 to 33 rem per year. So a transparent dome would probably have to be covered with an exterior dome containing water at least 2 to 4 meters deep in order for interior radiation levels to be below 5 Rem per year (the maximum allowed for radiation workers on Earth). However, raising children on Mars would probably require a doubling in water radiation shielding

  76. Maybe a nuclear reaction to split helium into hydrogen losses energy… but you could offset the energy lost by a nuclear fission of uranium in a second reactor that gains energy.. net energy is zero but creates hydrogen from lead…

  77. The only problem with mars is lack of hydrogen atoms… two options: (1) find some sources of hydrogen in the solar system and tow them to mars and then smash them into the planet (2) manufacture hydrogen using a nuclear reaction of some type… (no idea if that’s possible… but if they could fission atoms to extract all those protons in an atom … it would be an unlimited source of hydrogen and ultimately water on mars or anywhere for that matter…seems to me most nuclear reactions release helium ions… but if you could some how nuclear fission and split helium ions into hydrogen ion… and generate energy while doing it… well maybe it’s impossible…no idea…)

  78. Mars is a natural wonder that should never be terraformed. I’d limit the colonization and exploitation of the martian surface to a maximum of 1% of the total surface area (~1.8 million square kilometers).

  79. Given the prodigious cost of a square meter of livable real estate on Mars I sincerely doubt that we will make a giant dome for trees (or more laughably for crops which will be grown with LED hydroponics, 24.65 hours a day in tunnels drilled by tunneling machines).

    Domed cities are definitely going to exist, just not transparent domes and the interior of the domes will look like Urban Hong Kong where you build upwards as well as downwards. I mean with 1/3rd gravity it is easy to build nine story flats.

    Domes will basically be giant black body heat exchangers for the nuclear power plants to radiate away waste heat with some convective help from the thin atmosphere. Nuclear power keeps everything in the dome a nice 23-25 C all year long.

    At least the picture got the central support for the dome right.

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