Terraforming Mars for Plants and T-shirt Comfort Temperature and Air Pressure by 2150

Chris McCay describes how to terraform Mars within about one years of starting. Chris has determined that using supergreenhouse gases like C3F8 (Octafluoropropane) would warm up the atmosphere by about 40 degrees celsius and increase the pressure by 1000 times. This would enable Mars to grow plants and trees.

The terraforming analogy is that of moving down a mountain. Terraforming will reduce the coldness and increase the air pressure.

We will need to explore below the surface of Mars to confirm there is enough water, CO2 and nitrogen on Mars for this terraforming to work.

Making Mars oxygen-rich as well will be even more difficult. McCay believes the process will take 10,000 to 100,000 years using biological processes. It is only 0.01% efficient to convert solar energy when making oxygen. Using non-biological processes, we would need to leverage my concepts of self-replicating factories to make massive solar power capture and use that power for hyper-efficient oxygen generation. This would be unless we find new processes or explore and find other materials on Mars.

If we can make Mars comfortable for plants then humans would not need spacesuits but could work around in t-shirts but with an oxygen supply.

SOURCES- Mars Society Virtual Conference 2021
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

37 thoughts on “Terraforming Mars for Plants and T-shirt Comfort Temperature and Air Pressure by 2150”

  1. The fastest way is to dig down and terra form at the same time.
    Think The Bingham Canyon Mine, the deepest open pit mine on Earth but
    maybe two or three times deeper on Mars. Terraforming above to Increase air pressure and digging deeper below to also increase air pressure. Both done concurrently would take decades to complete.

  2. This is a re-treading of the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. It was investigated thoroughly then, and the results were the same. Put in a Herculean effort aided by mass automation, and the timeline is plausible.

    Also moholes.

  3. Wow! Lots of negative reaction. The truth is, limiting our thinking to surfaces would be very sad. We need to excavate massive caverns in the Moon, in Mars, in Asteroids, and in the Earth. We can accommodate a hundred times more people in the Moon as currently live on the Earth. The Moon is solid much deeper, and many levels of caverns can be made, all connected with maglevs. And throw away your preconception of caves as damp, dark, drippy and slimy. These will be lush with plants, well lit, a pleasant temperature and humidity. And there is no reason they can't have open spaces and spacious dwellings.

  4. Pretty much. If you try to terraform the entire planet at once, you end up expending a huge effort before the result is perceptible.

    If you terraform it one dome at a time, until the domes cover the entire surface, every effort directly nets you inhabitable land.

    Worth adding, I suppose, that while there are almost certainly not enough volatiles on Mars to give you an Earth equivalent unrestrained atmosphere, (Given that it takes 2.6 times as much air to give the same pressure under Mars' lower gravity!) and absolutely not enough inert gas to dilute that to something WE could breath, there's quite likely enough to allow several kilometers of air under a roof, with at least enough N2 content for life to thrive. Humans might have to wear rebreathers, at worst, until we could be reengineered to survive in a mostly CO2 atmosphere.

    I picture a transparent membrane held down by a forest of stays anchored in the ground. You could even hang housing from the stays, for some seriously impressive views.

  5. We can power a magnet with a molt salt reactor,to protect the atmosphere, it is harder to gain mass, but if we kept at it for 100,000 years we could make it more massive.
    If we have very good fusion plants by then it will help a lot, tremendous amount of O2 locked in all that is red, you refine it and get pure Iron and 02.
    I'd love
    to transport Co2 from Venus to Mars but even building a thousand ships all ten miles long and a mile wide ad thicket would still take forever.
    Really we should look to live in the clouds of Venus they are already habitable.
    Asimov's idea to terraform Venus was to use a photo cannon to shoot particles from the sunlit has to be somethign like that, but we are adapted right ow to live in th clouds of Venus.

  6. Agree ,but it wouldn't be as bad as burning the library,I'm still peeved at that .Setting up a magnetic field would be doable,but you really need more mass, and crashing asteroids would bring more of the right material,H20,Methane,C02,ect as well as heat by the energy released from impact.
    Molten salt reactors powering rocket engines,could move asteroids.Notice whenever we talk about terraforming or other huge energy use it is always MSR,seems like we should use them here.
    Best idea to start would be in the great canyon, and just cover parts of it. The sun is very radioactive even her o earth breath gigatonnes of atmosphere, on Mars people will live in caves, to protect against sun and cosmic rays.
    We can let robots do all th work and exploring for quite a while,the Moon is more useful. And there will be asteroid minning.

  7. So magnetic field helps but it is a tiny factor compared to escape speed. This still seems to me that the talk of magnetic field holding in the air is misleading.

  8. Earth has as much CO2 as Venus, but most of ours is locked up in carbonate minerals like limestone (calcium-magnesium carbonate).

  9. For a long time, the only space the Martians need to worry about terraforming is the space under their habitat domes. Sea level pressure on Mars equates to 27 tons per square meter. It doesn't matter if it is gas or dome structure, only the total mass matters. So you can float a dome less massive than that at whatever height you want. Keep extending the domes as your needs increase.

  10. A big issue here is that, since Mars has a lower gravity than Earth, it takes about 3 times as much mass of atmosphere per square meter to achieve Earthly pressures: Proportionately speaking, Mars needs hugely more air than Earth.

    I think it's probably a mistake to assume terraforming in terms of rendering the whole planet naturally earthlike. As an alternate approach, I suggest just covering all but the mountain tops in a green house designed to retain atmospheric pressure. Suitably compartmentalized, of course, to avoid catastrophic failures.

    A couple km deep atmosphere would probably be sufficient for localized weather, and as more atmosphere was generated, the ceiling could be elevated.

  11. 30 km of soil? Is he freaking mad? It's probably closer to 100-1000m of soil. Bedrock is going to start long before you get as far down as 30km.

  12. To a rough estimate, Venus has a hundred times the mass of atmophere of Earth, and 90% of the area. Mars is about a third the area of Earth, and has 40% of the gravity. So getting Mars up to Earth pressures would hardly make a dent in Venus' CO2 surplus. Even if the CO2 was split to make O2, and the carbon sequestered, it would take something on the order of three percent off Venus' pressure. Getting gas from much shallower gravity wells, like the Jovian moons, would be far easier. There's water there, too.

  13. There have been a number of popular science type articles (not necessarily in "Popular Science" the childrens comic magazine) that proclaim "Mars has no atmosphere because no magnetic field, here's why."

    Naturally, such articles never mention the actual time frames involved so they pushed this idea out to the general public.

    Whether this was pure accident, or if there was nefarious motivation, is unknown at this point.

  14. Kerry said "pump", not "siphon". Otherwise the plan would be unrealistic.

    To restate it in a form that might just get past the first review:

    • Orbital mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a spot of Venus to heat gas above the temperature needed to reach escape velocity.
    • Stream of gas now caught up in the solar wind and accelerated away from the sun.
    • Magnetic deflectors at various spots to divert solar wind, and hence gas stream, to impact Mars.
    • Profit!!!
  15. It occurred to me some time ago that there was potentially a natural terraforming synergy between Venus and Mars. The suction hose idea actually has some merit, but only reaching down into the upper Venusian atmosphere, and then freezing the CO2 into dirty dry ice snowballs, wrapping them in a thin reflective/ablative film, and lobbing them to Mars. Once the system is set up, it should be able to operate with minimal intervention for as long as it takes to move the mass of dirty dry ice needed.

  16. In other words, Mars is a tiny planet, like Earth, and insufficient for an expanding technological civilization. Skip it!

  17. Wouldn't work. Even if the siphon could be started in the first place and a material was strong enough to handle the cosmic levels of pressure in the hose… Mars is higher in the solar gravity well than Earth, so it wouldn't work.

  18. You're an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect and a little knowledge being worse than no knowledge. Yes, the atmosphere would be lost eventually, but it would take millions of years. And that's assuming that humans don't 1) just replenish the losses (very easy), or 2) develop an artificial magnetic field.

  19. The half-life of atmospheric loss by solar wind stripping on Mars is hundreds of millions of years. That is why there is still *some* atmosphere and not vacuum. If we can pump up the pressure, it will last beyond human time scales.

  20. I see a few commenters mentioned the need for a magnetic field to keep the atmosphere.

    I have long wondered why this is a common belief.
    Venus has no magnetic field, but a much thicker atmosphere then Earth does. Even the nitrogen alone in Venus' atmosphere is a few times the amount of nitrogen in Earth's atmosphere.

    Can anyone point me to an article on why it is thought that a magnetic field is needed for a planet to hold onto an atmosphere despite the counter evidence of Venus? What am I missing?

  21. My concern here is that we will fall into interplanetary NIMBYSm rather sooner than later.

    People going there will create cities and infrastructure made for current martian conditions very quickly (in a few decades tops). That will create vested interests in such conditions to persist.

    Then people will start resisting any big planetary changes as this plan, using BS excuses like "respect the original Mars" or whatever.

    We will end up changing Mars one way or another, though, but me thinks directed big plans are doomed to fail, because humans are tribal and self centered and we will be there soon creating a statu quo.

  22. There is a lot of O2 trapped in the red soil of Mars. Processing that soil would yield iron and O2. We should start with bubble cities in the deep canyon at the equator.

  23. Using solar to try and produce O2 is silly, particularly on Mars. Just get the Weylan-Yutani Corp to set up one of their fusion Atmosphere Processors to provide the energy to do the job (or more seriously use molten salt fission reactors).

  24. Yes, the sun would blow away an atmosphere without a magnetic field. The numbers mentioned was that it took 500 million years.
    I think that a civilization that could make an atmosphere in the first place would be able to deal with that level of loss.

  25. Feeling the air from another world on your skin will be a transformative moment. Then, Humanity will have become an interplanetary species…

  26. Priority is to raise atmospheric pressure above the Armstrong limit (60mb, 19,000m equivalent) to increase the chances of survival in case of accidental exposure, which WILL happen. Doubling that would allow activity on the surface with warm clothing and a breathing mask, taking into account 30 min of pure o2 before "going outside" (to avoid bends). Being physically active while breathing pure o2 at 120-140 mb is ok, as this is the po2 one encounters at ski resorts.

  27. Think I read that it would take a while by our standards, so we don't need one to start, add later when more capable. ??

  28. Easy, just hook up a big rubber hose between earth and Mars, and pump all our unwanted CO2 there.

  29. An artificial magnetic field of some kind is a must .The sun will blow away any atmosphere we make others wise

  30. Where do you really live? I'll tell you. You live in your house and in your car. We really are not made for outside, except for in some fields in Africa. The reality is that we don't need to modify the whole Earth. We modify ourselves with clothing and shoes and maybe a hat. We modify a space to sleep and eat and relax. We bring a cool river and a hot river into the house. We warm or cool the air as it suits us. Cover ourselves with blankets as we sleep in cozy beds. We drive in vehicles that warm or cool us as it suits us. It might even process that air, purifying it.
    No, we don't have to terraform. We just need better clothing (space suits), better homes, and better vehicles. And food grown or manufactured in new ways.

    If we mess with Mars, we are going to be derided for thousands of years, for trashing the place. We will be right up there with the bozo who burned the Library of Alexandria. It is actually thinking small to merely think about the surface of planets. Your thinking is a ball and chain.

Comments are closed.