NASA to develop giant magnetic shield around Mars for human colonisation

NASA to develop giant magnetic shield around Mars for human colonisation

Dousing concerns on how Mars can be made habitable for humans despite the high radiation hazard and no water, a senior NASA scientist has floated a fearless new idea of installing a magnetic field around Mars to restore the Red Planet's atmosphere and make it habitable. But it might not have been always so. However, at one point in time, Mars had a thick atmosphere, which means that there may have been liquid water oceans on the Red Planet coupled with a more comfortable temperature.

The proposal (.PDF) relies on the theory that over four billion years ago, the planet's magnetic field vanished, turning the planet from a warm, wet environment to a dry husk.

To combat some of the main barriers to sending humans to Mars, as reported by Universe Today, last week, NASA hosted a discussion and presentation group called the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop.

This idea was germinated by Jim Green, NASA's Planetary Science Division Director.

Scientists proposed launching a magnetic shield into space to protect the planet from solar wind. However, the researchers believe that the magnetic shield could help Mars regain some of its lost Earth-like habitability within the space of a couple of generations.

Company CEO Oren Milstein said human tissues will be protected by the vest, especially stem cells that are vulnerable to solar radiation in places like Mars where the thin atmosphere offers no protection. Even if there is still some hearty microorganism living on the Red Planet, it's not suitable for human habitation without a great deal of protective equipment.

Studies have revealed that by doing this, the atmosphere of Mars can be restored and terraform its environment which will allow liquid water to flow on the surface of Mars making life possible there. Despite its similarities to Earth, the planet is still inimical to human life, with sub-Antarctic temperatures all year round, an atmosphere is composed of roughly 95 percent carbon dioxide, 0.13 percent oxygen, and minor traces of water, nitrogen oxide, neon, hydrogen-deuterium-oxygen, krypton, and xenon.

While the team acknowledges that the concept might sound "fanciful", they point to existing miniature magnetosphere research being conducted to protect astronauts and spacecraft from cosmic radiation, and think that the same technology on a larger scale could be used to shield Mars.

Should all these things happen as predicted, the exploration and colonization of Mars may become a reality within a few hundred years. Without returning some kind of magnetic field to Mars, this situation will not change.

Green said: "The solar system is ours, let's take it". Green argued, would allow for human explorers to study the planet in much greater detail, and help determine its habitability, since numerous elements that pointed towards Mars being habitable in the past would slowly seep back into and onto the planet's environment.