Here is how it might be possible to make barren planets habitable

17 Apr 2018

Image: Algol/Shutterstock

Colonising a planet such as Mars would be a monumental challenge given its lack of atmosphere, but what if we could make the surface habitable?

As the latest NASA mission shows, the hunt is on for alien worlds that could not only show signs that life exists there, but that humans could even one day call home.

Before we can get to that point, however, humankind will have to start a little closer to home. Indeed, Elon Musk and SpaceX are hoping to begin with Mars as the first extraterrestrial colony in the decades to come.

Future Human

This will be no easy task, given that these future colonists will be bombarded with harmful cosmic radiation, and that the planet itself has an incredibly thin atmosphere that would limit their existence to the confines of a protective bubble.

But what if we could physically alter the planet to make it more habitable for the descendants of those initial colonists, far into the future?

Known as ‘terraforming’, the concept has long been familiar to readers or viewers of science fiction, perhaps most famously portrayed by the 1990 classic Total Recall. In that film, the planet was terraformed through the unleashing of some alien device, but realistic concepts also exist.

Musk famously suggested the idea that we could launch hundreds of nuclear weapons towards the planet and detonate them around Mars’ polar regions. The idea is that the immense heat would warm up the planet and unleash stores of CO2 and start a cycle that could one day lead to the formation of an Earth-like atmosphere.

But what other potential, non-nuclear options are there?

This infographic from the team over at Futurism suggests some cool examples.

Habitable planets

Click to enlarge. Infographic: Futurism

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic