Text Size
Facebook Twitter More...

It’s a very poorly kept secret in planetary science that many of us first got inspired to join the field by reading science fiction. For many of us who study Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson’s 1990s Mars trilogy, which describes the colonization and eventual terraforming of the Red Planet, was particularly influential. But rereading these books in 2019, I noted that much of what he imagined looks pretty far-fetched—we’re still a long way from landing the first human on Mars, and terraforming the planet to make it habitable seems like a very distant dream.

Serious scientific ideas for transforming Mars into an Earth-like planet have been put forward before, but they require vast industrial capabilities and make assumptions about the total amount of accessible carbon dioxide (CO2) on the planet that have been criticized as unrealistic. When we started thinking about this problem a few years ago, therefore, we decided to take a different approach. One thing you learn quickly when you study Mars’s past climate, as we do in our usual research, is that while it was intermittently habitable in the past, it was never really like Earth—it has always been a unique and alien world. So when we’re thinking about how to make Mars habitable in the future, perhaps we should also be taking inspiration from the Red Planet itself.

To read more, click here.
Category: Science