Aerogel Could Be the Key to Colonizing Mars, Here’s How
Scientists have developed the concept of terraforming individual areas of the surface of Mars using silica airgel, which will mimic the atmospheric greenhouse effect.
Previously, researchers planned to melt ice caps at the poles of the red planet in order to form an atmosphere and temperature on it close to Earth’s. However, last year, astrophysicists said that even after evaporating all the water and carbon dioxide on Mars, this will not be enough to achieve a minimum greenhouse effect, and will increase the pressure by only 7%. Although the researchers abandoned the original global idea, they developed another option..
A group of scientists from Harvard and Edinburgh Universities, as well as specialists from NASA, proposed terraforming individual regions of the planet using a layer of silica airgel, 2-3 cm thick.This artificial screen above the surface of Mars will be able to transmit enough sunlight for photosynthesis, but at the same time it will block 99.5% radiation and 60% ultraviolet. Since the airgel has good thermal insulation properties, the air and the rock underneath will be able to maintain the temperature. above zero without internal energy source.
Isolated residential domes or autonomous biospheres can be covered with porous material. Due to the greenhouse effect inside, the surface will warm up several meters deep, melting underground water, which will make it possible to cycle.
Although the scientists still have a number of engineering questions to solve and test, they argue that the concept could be implemented in the next few decades. The proposed option will also allow maintaining the current conditions of most of the surface to search for signs of previous or even existing life..
In the future, Mars may become the main platform for sending space missions, since it naturally produces 10 million times more rare rocket fuel components than on Earth..
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: cloudinary