Published: Wed, March 08, 2017
Science | By Boyd Webster

Magnetic shield could make Mars habitable

Magnetic shield could make Mars habitable

The reasons for Mars' mesmeric hold on the human imagination are obvious.

Green said: "The solar system is ours, let's take it".

By its terraform project, NASA hopes the Martian environment would see liquid water flows again on its surface. Former President Barack Obama announced at the end of his presidency in 2016 a "clear goal" to get humans to Mars by sometime in the 2030s.

As technology has advanced, and anxieties about the future prospects for humanity on Earth have increased, the race for space colonization has gained momentum.

Habitability of Mars is an age-old concern for astronomers and scientists.

As its atmosphere thickens, the planet will start heating up, enough to melt the ice under its polar caps. Similar orbiters may be used to scout the Martian surface for resources. Mars' magnetic field once protected the red planet while supporting an atmosphere (and moisture), and NASA scientists think it can be artificially restored. While putting his speech at the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop, going on at the NASA's headquarters in Washington, James Green, NASA's Planetary Science Division Director presented his surprising scheme to deploy a magnetic shield in the region of Mars to reinstate its habitable atmosphere.

All this paradise-like conditions ended when Mars lost its magnetic field, between 3.7 and 4.2 billions of years ago. Without returning some kind of magnetic field to Mars, this situation will not change.

According to Green, if scientists are capable of launching a "magnetic shield" forming a safeguard between Mars and the atmospheric loss into the solar wind, it could possibly make the planet feasible for human existence.

The shield would consist of a giant dipole powerful-enough to generate an artificial magnetic field.

Mars now appears to be a cold desert world and it has no global magnetic field. "That of course includes Mars and for humans to be able to explore Mars, together, with us doing science, we need a better environment", he said.

Those eager to buy their ticket to a liveable Mars may have to be patient. Although, she adds that the underlying physics are "entirely sound". We're seeing how computer simulations can cope with a challenge beyond their usual abilities to perform. "We have a little more work in this area". It will be immensely expensive, a huge investment. There'll be large vessels traveling between the two planets, and scientists could assemble the field in transit. It might not automatically mean that we will turn Mars into an alternative home. The possibility of such projects will become much more credible. But it's certainly a promising vision of what could happen in the coming years. Mars is a place we can envisage humanity living on.

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