Truly gorgeous – very ‘Blue Mars’ – but sadly, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere – IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.
I am satisfied that Mars’ iron-nickel core is no longer molten. That means that Mars can have no coherent magnetic field – which in turn means no substantial atmosphere or oceans. Without a shield against the solar wind, the air and water vapor gets ‘sputtered’ away molecule by molecule.
When Mars was in its sallow youth, its iron core was still molten and spun, creating a dynamo… and Mars had plenty of surface water. The Curiosity rover might tell us more about Mars’ ancient atmosphere through chemical analysis of the rocks it finds. Rest assured such an atmosphere was NOT breathable by US! But then Mars’ small core ‘froze out’ and stopped spinning.
So as attractive as the idea of terraforming Mars seems to many enthusiasts, it just isn’t in the cards. Maybe we’ll find a good candidate elsewhere, but not Mars.
“I am satisfied that Mars’ iron-nickel core is no longer molten. That means that Mars can have no coherent magnetic field – which in turn means no substantial atmosphere or oceans. Without a shield against the solar wind, the air and water vapor gets ’sputtered’ away molecule by molecule.”
This is a solid theory as to how Mars lost it’s atmosphere. I think you are very likely correct that this was at least a major factor in the process. I suspect its smaller mass also had to do with it not being able to hold on to the atmosphere it likely once had.
Nevertheless, these limitations do not rule out terraforming. The re-introduction of an atmosphere is possible through a gigantic engineering effort involving the importation of all the necessary atmospheric components as well as a large infusion of heat. The resources could come largely from icy asteroids directed to impact the planet and the heat could come from focusing sunlight, nuclear fusion or fission or some other chemical reaction. I’m obvious not sufficiently versed in the science to get deep into the details. However, quite a few intelligent science fiction writers and serious working scientists have considered the possibilities and described the steps in detail.
I would say it is only limits in our imagination that can allow us to say that such a thing could never be done. Is it likely that it will be done? I put very long odds on it, but I don’t rule it out. I am not a dogmatic believer that anything is or is not possible, including the most absurd fantasy of all, that there is a supreme being responsible for creation of the universe. I would state, though, that the likelihood of successful terraformation of Mars is at least 10100 times more likely.
Making Mars Earthlike is probably never going to happen, but a little help that is within the realm of our capabilities could make it much less hostile and quite possibly viable for human life, though probably not human life as it exists today (via significant genetic alteration).
The relative size of Mars at roughly 1/3 Earth’s mass is likely the core cause of the Red Planet’s problems (pardon the pun). It just wasn’t big enough and simply cooled off too fast.
I agree that there are things that might ameliorate the harsh surface conditions we see now. I doubt if human artificial genetic modification will be of much help in the foreseeable future… but never say never!
Beautiful pictures. We’ll find a world like it someday.