Public Lectures

Can we terraform Mars?

Published on September 13, 2018


Seminar Abstract:

People have been talking recently about “terraforming” Mars—making the environment more Earth-like by raising the atmospheric pressure so that people wouldn’t need spacesuits, and raising the temperature to allow liquid water to be stable at the surface. If this could be done at all, it would require using carbon dioxide (CO2), which is an effective and naturally occurring greenhouse gas. We would need to find sinks where the CO2 on Mars has gone and figure out how to put the CO2 back into the atmosphere. Is there enough CO2 on Mars to allow this? How easy would it be to mobilize the CO2 and put it back into the atmosphere?

In this presentation, LASP’s associate director for science and principal investigator for NASA’s MAVEN Mars orbiter, Bruce Jakosky, will discuss how much CO2 was ever present on Mars, where it went, and whether it’s possible to put it back into the atmosphere to terraform the planet. He’ll also talk about future exploration plans for Mars, using both robotic and human missions, and the potential for colonizing Mars.

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