Written by: Aiman Abdullah.
Have you ever imagined your life on a planet other than Earth? On Mars or on Venus?
If not then start doing so, as TERRAFORMING has been introduced in the world of “Science Fiction”. By this process, body (planet, moon) is transformed in such a way to resemble Earth so that it can be colonized by living organisms.
Kim Stanley Robinson,in the 1990s, released his famous science fiction trilogy based on the terraforming of Mars, known as Red Mars, Blue Mars and Green Mars. But, terraforming is more than fiction; it is being addressed as a near future possibility.In our solar system, Mars is the planet that is closest in its conditions to what Earth is now. It has certain elements: Nitrogen, CO2 and water that support life. Its rotation rate and axial tilt is too close to that of Earth. Scientists have claimed that it can be terraformed.Falcon Heavy Rocket has been launched few days back to make trips to Mars possible.
Mars is a lifeless, desolate planet that lack magnetic field, has thin atmosphere, which has nothing to do with life. “Mars in my opinion at present is dead, dead, dead”, says planetary scientist David Grinspoon. Then, how this can be the second world?Will the current technology be sufficient to do so? How long will it take to be terraformed? All these questions blink in mind after listening to this idea of backup location. In order to answer these questions we need to explore terraforming a bit more.
Some visions and ideas of terraforming have been expressed so far, one of those is “Shell Worlds” given by Kenneth Roy, speaker of Icarus Interstellar 2013 Starship Congress. Shell World means colonizing a world inside a protective shell providing an atmosphere that can support life.
Roy said that we can create an atmosphere with composition, temperature and pressure of our choice and then we put a shell around it, this would create a world having desired atmosphere inside the shell. The outer part of the shell is the vacuum that can be used to carry out industry works. He said; Mars would be a good candidate for this shell world treatment. “That is not a bad thing; it means you don’t have to deal with volcanoes and earthquakes”, said Roy.
Other methods of terraforming involve the introduction of microbial life to the planet which is going to be terraformed, which is then followed by the importation of plant life, which will lead to the production of oxygen helping in colonizing animal life.
The addition of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to the atmosphere of planet will trigger global warming. Then the plantation of dark flora on the polar ice caps so that it can absorb more heat, melt and convert the planet more Earth-like in its conditions. Para-terraforming is another concept proposed by British mathematician Richard L.S. Taylor, where only the hospitable part of a planet is enclosed in a dome, so that its environment can be terraformed (much similar to Shell World).
Now let’s discuss answer to the question, how long will it (planet) take to be terraformed? Robert Zubrin, American aerospace engineer has estimated 1,000 years to establish large plant life and few more millennia to have oxygen levels equal to that of the Earth. Terraforming is not a child’s play. Importation of vital material on large scale will be required. It’ll take centuries of human creativity and labor. Moreover, there is no guarantee of success.
Then, why don’t we use all of these resources and technologies (required to terraform other planets) to improve our own planet, Earth?