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Thread: How long until we have colonize Mars?

  1. #961
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    3,199
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Use silica aerogel to colonize regions of Mars, if not the whole world?

    https://phys.org/news/2019-07-silica...habitable.html
    More details on the above. I'm not sure that I get this.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1907.09089

    Enabling martian habitability with silica aerogel via the solid-state greenhouse effect

    R. Wordsworth, L. Kerber, C. Cockell
    (Submitted on 22 Jul 2019)

    The low temperatures and high ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels at the surface of Mars today currently preclude the survival of life anywhere except perhaps in limited subsurface niches. Several ideas for making the martian surface more habitable have been put forward previously, but they all involve massive environmental modification that will be well beyond human capability for the foreseeable future. Here we present a new approach to this problem. We show that widespread regions of the surface of Mars could be made habitable to photosynthetic life in the future via a solid-state analogue to Earth's atmospheric greenhouse effect. Specifically, we demonstrate via experiments and modelling that under martian environmental conditions, a 2 to 3-cm thick layer of silica (SiO2) aerogel will simultaneously transmit sufficient visible light for photosynthesis, block hazardous ultraviolet radiation, and raise temperatures underneath permanently to above the melting point of water, without the need for any internal heat source. Placing silica aerogel shields over sufficiently ice-rich regions of the martian surface could therefore allow photosynthetic life to survive there with minimal subsequent intervention. This regional approach to making Mars habitable is much more achievable than global atmospheric modification. In addition, it can be developed systematically starting from minimal resources, and can be further tested in extreme environments on Earth today.

  2. #962
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    5,755
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    More details on the above. I'm not sure that I get this.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1907.09089

    Enabling martian habitability with silica aerogel via the solid-state greenhouse effect

    R. Wordsworth, L. Kerber, C. Cockell
    (Submitted on 22 Jul 2019)

    The low temperatures and high ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels at the surface of Mars today currently preclude the survival of life anywhere except perhaps in limited subsurface niches. Several ideas for making the martian surface more habitable have been put forward previously, but they all involve massive environmental modification that will be well beyond human capability for the foreseeable future. Here we present a new approach to this problem. We show that widespread regions of the surface of Mars could be made habitable to photosynthetic life in the future via a solid-state analogue to Earth's atmospheric greenhouse effect. Specifically, we demonstrate via experiments and modelling that under martian environmental conditions, a 2 to 3-cm thick layer of silica (SiO2) aerogel will simultaneously transmit sufficient visible light for photosynthesis, block hazardous ultraviolet radiation, and raise temperatures underneath permanently to above the melting point of water, without the need for any internal heat source. Placing silica aerogel shields over sufficiently ice-rich regions of the martian surface could therefore allow photosynthetic life to survive there with minimal subsequent intervention. This regional approach to making Mars habitable is much more achievable than global atmospheric modification. In addition, it can be developed systematically starting from minimal resources, and can be further tested in extreme environments on Earth today.
    Or you could build greenhouses with a couple layers of appropriately-filtered plastic for a few orders of magnitude lower cost. As a bonus, those could contain environments habitable to humans, not just lichens.

    The description of aerogel as something that can be developed from minimal resources is a usage of the word "minimal" I'm not familiar with.

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