So far, we have heard regularly that even if we can reach the Red Planet, her unfriendly conditions will not allow her to settle for a long time. A group of US researchers has a slightly more optimistic approach to this topic.
Although in recent years board games about terraformation of Mars, in which on this hostile planet we plant forests without problems, we build residential centers and perform many similar activities, are extremely popular, in fact we are not able to change the conditions prevailing on the entire Red Planet. Nothing, however, precludes terraforming it with fragments, which can be helped by silica airgel.
Aerogels is a material that is a kind of rigid foam with an extremely low density, its mass is comprised of 90-99.8% air, and the rest is a porous material that forms its structure. This seemingly delicate structure, however, is deceptive, because the material is very resistant to compression and stretching, withstands pressure on a smooth surface area of 4,000 times its own weight, and if it is made of silica, it is stable up to 1200 ° C.
Now scientists from Harvard have said that with his help you can change the conditions on Mars, which, to put it mildly, are disastrous. Apparently, it used to be different in the past, but now Mars is a desert, where the only layers of water are preserved in a polar ice cap and salt underwater lakes. One can not forget about the dilute atmosphere, where oxygen is like a medicine, extremely low temperatures and zero protection from solar radiation.
The new solution from Harvard researchers has a chance to solve at least some of these problems, but it requires placing in the air over selected regions a thin silica silica bubble dome that is transparent, but at the same time provides protection against UV radiation and warms the surface. This should be enough for the water to remain liquid, and the plants could use photosynthesis in the selected region – at least this is the result of tests with the reproduction of the conditions prevailing on the Red Planet.
It turned out that already a thin 2-3 cm layer is enough to warm the surface by 50 ℃, so if we choose the right places, it means raising the temperature of Mars fragments to -10 ℃. It would still be low, but these are not temperatures that we can not cope with anymore – what’s more, it should have allowed to keep the water in these states in a constant state, all year round, which combined with constant access to sunlight, there should be enough vegetation to carry out photosynthesis. Are we then a step closer to the settlement of Mars?