NASA proposes shield around Mars to aid human colonization
The shield would act as a de facto magnetosphere, shielding Mars from the ravages of solar winds and debris, with the ultimate aim of allowing liquid water to flow across the surface of the planet, according to scientists.
This proposal, if implemented, would certainly be preferable to Elon Musk’s proposed nuclear bombardment of the Martian ice caps.
NASA's Planetary Science Division director, Jim Green, told the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop last week that placing a magnetic shield between Mars and the sun would allow a magnetosphere to form which would be a precursor to a fully-fledged atmosphere.
“This situation then eliminates many of the solar wind erosion processes that occur with the planet’s ionosphere and upper atmosphere allowing the Martian atmosphere to grow in pressure and temperature over time,” Green and his team of researchers explained in an supplementary paper.
While it may sound far-fetched, the team points to similar systems already in place in orbit around the Earth to protect astronauts from solar radiation. They also believe that were such a magnetic shield deployed to protect Mars, the planet could regenerate atmospheric pressure up to half that of Earth in a matter of a few years.
“This is not terraforming as you may think of it where we actually artificially change the climate, but we let nature do it, and we do that based on the physics we know today,” Green said.