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Scientists propose plan to terraform Mars and create a ‘breathable atmosphere’


Scientists propose plan to terraform Mars and create a ‘breathable atmosphere’

The idea of terraforming Mars – aka “Earth’s Twin” – is a fascinating idea. Now experts believe we can actually do it, in around 100,000 years. According to a recent study presented at the Planetary Science Vision 2050 NASA workshop, scientists Aaron Berliner of the University of California at Berkeley and Chris McKay of the Division of Space Science at the NASA Ames Research Center believe in around 100,000 years, the red planet could have a breathable atmosphere.

We propose the following abstract on a Martian Terraforming timeline as a guide to shaping planetary science research over the coming century. Terraforming Mars can be divided into two phases. The first phase is warming the planet from the present average surface temperature of -60ºC to a value close to Earth’s average temperature to +15ºC, and recreating a thick CO2 atmosphere. This warming phase is relatively easy and quick and could take ~100 years.

The second phase is producing levels of O2 in the atmosphere that would allow humans and other large mammals to breathe normally. This oxygenation phase is relatively difficult and would take 100,000 years or more unless one postulates a technological breakthrough,” wrote experts in the study.

Artist’s impression of the terraforming of Mars, from its current state to a livable world. Credit: Daein Ballard

However, before this process can begin, Berliner and McKay warn in their article that certain prior steps must be taken. These include researching the Martian environment to determine surface water levels, calculating the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and in the form of ice in Polar Regions and the amount of nitrates in the Martian soil.

As they explain, all these steps are keys to making Mars Earth-like AGAIN.

Heating up Mars

Heating the red planet would basically be achieved through the release of massive amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, just as we are currently doing on Earth. If these gases capture 10% of the solar radiation that escapes today from the red planet, scientists calculate that in a century Mars could reach an average surface temperature of 15 degrees Celsius.

Furthermore, Berliner and McKay indicate we would have to reach an oxygen concentration of 13% on Mars. The method they believe is best is photosynthesis.

This is what Mars would look like in the first phase of terraforming.

…And this is what it could look like when everything is completed.

The Warming Phase on Mars results in a planet with a thick CO2 atmosphere. The thickness is determined by the total releasable CO2 present on Mars. The temperatures are well above freezing and liquid water is common. An Earth-like hydrological cycle is maintained. Photosynthetic organisms can be introduced as conditions warm and organic biomass is thus produced. A rich flora and fauna are present. A natural result of this is the biological consumption of the nitrate and perchlorate in the Martian soil producing N2 and O2 gas. While the pressure is high enough that humans do not need a space suit, they need a gas mask to provide O2 and prevent high levels of CO2 in the lungs,”wrote experts in the study.

To alter the thick CO2 atmosphere of Mars produced in the Warming Phase to allow for humans to breathe naturally requires that the O2 levels be above 13% and the CO2 levels be below 1% of sea level pressure. The high O2 and low CO2 levels on Earth are due to photosynthesis which uses light to power the following transformation [H2O + CO2 = CH2O + O2 ] Where CH2O is a chemical representation of biomass,” indicate Berliner and McKay.

All of this, scientists explain, could be achieved with the current technology in around 100,000 years.

However, there’s a little catch so to speak.

If there is currently life (or life that could be revived) on Mars, this would lead us to collide with certain ethical issues related to how terraforming might affect the colonized planet.

If Martian life is related to Earth life – possibly due to meteorite exchange – then the situation is familiar, and issues of what other types of Earth life to introduce and when must be addressed. However, if Martian life in unrelated to Earth life and clearly represents a second genesis of life, then significant technical and ethical issues are raised,” concluded Berliner and McKay.

Source: The Terraforming Timeline


Ivan is editor-in-chief at, he also writes for Universe Explorers.
You may have seen him appear on the Discovery and History Channel.

  • Savatage64 (Always Deplorable)

    I have two reasons to be wary of in terraforming Mars:
    1) DOOM: Didn’t turn out so good for the Union Aerospace Corp…or the space Marines.
    Can you say Hell Knight?
    2) ALIENS: Again, didn’t turn out so good for the Weyland-Yutani Corp. or the space Marines. Can you say: RIPLEEEEEY!!!

    • UntrollableRiderOfAPurplePony

      Hey S64. I was just playing Doom on my N64 this morning!

      • Savatage64 (Always Deplorable)

        Old school N64…I had that too. The latest PC version is a blast.

        • UntrollableRiderOfAPurplePony

          Oohh. I might have a look!

          • Savatage64 (Always Deplorable)

            Yeah, came out last spring….the graphics are spectacular….the gore is intense (chainsaws…OMG !!).

          • UntrollableRiderOfAPurplePony

            The chainsaw!!!

      • rickd12

        Goldeneye. Had many a night on the multiplayer

        • UntrollableRiderOfAPurplePony

          Oh yeah. We would set it to 1 shot kills and play with grenade launchers.
          Some of the best fun ever had.

  • trimble.robin

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  • Todd M

    You’ll be waiting a very long time for this, since Mars isn’t a solid object and space doesn’t exist.

    • UntrollableRiderOfAPurplePony

      And you are a nutjob.

      Please don’t come back.

    • rickd12

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Oh, you’re serious. Ok lets have a debate as to why you believe such outlandish nonsense and i’ll explain (with pictures) why you are wrong

      • Todd M

        There is no debate. You can’t produce a single real image of Mars (or any other planet) as a solid object, or Earth as a globe. CGI photoshop works of art don’t count. You’ve been lied to. No one went to the moon. NASA is a scam. We can’t leave Earth. It’s a closed system. This is not a planet, (“Plan it”) it’s a realm. A flat, enclosed realm. You are not the descendant of a monkey, spinning around on a ball. Satellites don’t exist. Gravity does not exist. Aliens do not exist. Everything you think you know is a lie.

        The truth shall set you free.

        • rickd12

          Brother, seriously? Show me one piece of evidence that backs that up. The wonderful thing about science as a whole is that it’s out there for everyone. It’s not brainwashing it’s fact

          • Todd M

            NASA themselves freely admit they cannot go past low earth orbit or the Van Allen Belt. It’s 2017. So how did they get past it and land on the moon in the 60s in that duct-taped trash heap they called a spaceship?

            Answer: They didn’t.
            Van Allen Belt = The Firmament.
            No one is going to space. Space doesn’t exist.

          • rickd12


          • Todd M

            I have two facts to present:
            1.) Combustion is not possible in a vacuum.
            2.) Thrust is not possible in a vacuum.

            When you can prove both of those things false, then we can talk some more.

          • rickd12

            Buddy seriously. I have literally libraries full of demonstrable facts which back up what i’m saying. You need to lay off the bong pipe and put down the bible. Bibles are very, very dangerous

          • Todd M

            Have you tested any of these things in your library for yourself?
            Or are you taking the word of the people who wrote those books you have, on faith?

          • rickd12

            Of course not. It’s established scientific fact

          • Todd M

            So you’re taking it on faith that these people you don’t know, have never met, and likely never will, are telling you the truth. Sounds like a religion to me.

            Well, I like to test the things I am told, rather than accept it on blind faith, and I found that they are lying. If you are comfortable in your religion of Scientism and want to continue putting your faith in those folks without doing any fact checking for yourself, that’s your call and your path to choose. Best of luck.

          • rickd12

            I’m currently at an elbow concert. We’ll pick this up tomorrow

          • Todd M

            Enjoy the concert!

          • rickd12

            Lol. Thanks

          • rickd12

            It was awesome. Stood right at the front and could’ve touched guy’s balls at one point

        • UntrollableRiderOfAPurplePony

          You are a poor hapless fool.
          I pity you. Really.

          Unless you are trolling….then well done! Lol.

          • Todd M

            The way I came to know the flat earth is the truth, is when I tried to prove it’s not. Don’t take my word for it, or anyone else’s. Research it for yourself. Likewise, don’t take the word of NASA or scientists, paid actors or politicians you’ve never met and don’t know. If you believe you live on a spinning ball, then prove it to yourself. You should have verifiable proof, for yourself, for the things you believe and the reality you think you live in. I know I want that. I don’t trust anyone. Since then, I have gathered a mountain of undeniable proof of the flat earth, and not one stick of proof of a ball earth. It’s all out there. No need to trust what I say.

          • UntrollableRiderOfAPurplePony

            Oh dear.
            A mountain of undeniable proof?

            You flat earthers are the craziest of the craziest. Lol

          • Todd M

            Gyroscope: This is a fixed plane in space. It is used in jets, commercial airline, submarines, etc. to positively know which way is up. A gyroscope cannot work if we live on a ball. You can perform this test yourself.

            Water: Water always seeks its own level, no matter the scale. Water does not curve. Ever.

            Gravity: The magical, mystical, unexplainable “force” you believe in that is supposedly so powerful it can literally curve an ocean around a ball, yet simultaneously so weak that a bird or a balloon can easily escape it.

            Rivers: Rivers always flow from the highest point to the lowest point. There are rivers on Earth over 500 miles long. The supposed curvature of the earth is 8 inches per mile squared. A river cannot flow uphill, and certainly not uphill and downhill at the same time. A river cannot exist on a ball earth.

            Venus & Mercury: These two “planets” have tighter orbits to the sun than Earth. So when we are facing away from the sun, aka: night time, we are also facing away from Mercury and Venus. It should be impossible to see either one of them in our night sky if we live on a ball. Yet we can.

            No Curvature: There is no curvature observed from any height. Amateur balloons have been sent up with cameras well over 100,000 feet, and it shows a flat earth in every direction, 360 degrees.

            You can see Oahu from Kawaii. This should not be possible given the curvature math.
            You can see Chicago from across Lake Michigan. This should not be possible.
            You do not see hot air balloons change orientation as they go out away from you, in order to match the supposed curvature. They retain the same vertical orientation.

            We can do this all day. I can prove the earth is flat 200 different ways from Sunday, and you can continue ridiculing and mocking me while providing zero proof for the ball if you want. Or, you can research and know these things for yourself and wake up out of the lie you’ve been living.

          • UntrollableRiderOfAPurplePony

            Lol at you.

            You poor misguided fool trying to sound intelligent.

          • Savatage64 (Always Deplorable)

            Oh dear God….I just read through all that….Marlio has a brother, it seems.

          • UntrollableRiderOfAPurplePony

            Funny. I almost typed that before as well.
            How can they be so stupid?
            Is it blind faith to an ancient book or are they just simply nuts?

          • Savatage64 (Always Deplorable)

            I don’t get it either…it’s very cultish, really.

          • UntrollableRiderOfAPurplePony


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  • Beetelgeuse

    Assuming this plan succeed at creating a breathable atmosphere, it wont last long.
    This scientist are forgetting the reason why Mars is a desertic planet. The lack of magnetic field.
    Without a magnetic field the solar wind will wipe any atmosphere, evaporate any water, and the radiation will kill any life.

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