In a tweet last Thursday (19), billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, released yet another of his ambitious projects: creating a colony on the planet Mars, which should have up to one million humans by 2050, living “in domes. glass in the beginning “.
According to Musk, whose company last week transported four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), the new venture will involve terraforming, a concept long suggested by scientists and science fiction authors who speculate that humans might be able to breathe on the surface. red planet open.
Recognizing that a hypothetical terraforming would be too slow to be implanted, Musk complemented his post by stating: “However, we can establish a human base there while we are alive. At least, a future space civilization, discovering our ruins, would be impressed by how far humans have arrived “.
What would the terraforming process look like on Mars?
Terraforming an entire planet is a process that would require changing the atmosphere, temperature, ecology and topography, so that it could support an ecosystem like Earth’s. Although it is a purely hypothetical concept, Musk is right when he says it would be a very slow process.
Based on a statement by Musk about the possibility of exploding the poles of Mars to increase the planet’s atmospheric pressure, inventor and programmer Robert Walker did a mathematical exercise on his Science 2.0 blog last year, and concluded that 3, 5,000 nuclear warheads a day to melt the polar caps of the red planet.
The problem is that this activity would generate an amount of radiation that would make the planet’s surface uninhabitable. The possibility of releasing “trapped” carbon dioxide was also refuted by a team of NASA scientists who, in a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy in 2018, said there was not enough of that chemical compound on Mars to increase atmospheric pressure.
Even with scientific evidence, Elon Musk does not let himself down and recognizes that building a city on Mars would be an arduous, dangerous and difficult task, but complete: “It is not for the faint of heart, as there is a good chance that you will die. […] But it will be very glorious if it works ”.