Today's technology can create a super spaceship

Huge magnetic field in space: why NASA's Mars project is necessary

Mars should become a life-friendly world. This vision presented researchers from the US space agency Nasa at the “Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop”, which took place in February of this year in the US capital Washington.

Artificial magnetic field is supposed to shield solar winds

Your idea is to create a huge magnetic field in space and to place the generator in such a way that it envelops the entire red planet. The artificial magnetosphere is supposed to shield it from the electrically charged particles of the solar wind. They hit the thin Martian atmosphere, which consists almost entirely of carbon dioxide (CO2), and tear its molecules into space, causing it to be constantly thinned out. With the field, it would be protected from further erosion - as is the case with the earth with its natural magnetic field.

As a result, our neighboring planet gradually warms up. Only then does the frozen greenhouse gas CO2 evaporate, which causes the planet to warm up. This can also melt the ice that is stored in large quantities in the Martian soil. Then liquid water would be available as an important survival aid for astronauts and later settlers.

Project would be gigantic

According to computer simulations by NASA researchers, a magnetic field strength of two Tesla is sufficient to generate the magnetic shield. For comparison: Computed tomographs work with magnetic fields of 0.5 Tesla, special high-field tomographs with three Tesla.

Despite the relatively low field strength, the project would be gigantic. It is necessary to install a power plant including field generators in a spaceship. This must be positioned at one of the so-called Lagrange points, where the forces of attraction of the planet and the sun cancel each other out. This is the only way to prevent it from drifting.

Project could ensure human survival

The technology for this has to be redeveloped, which devours billions - and all of this in order to bring a desert world a little closer to habitability. Accordingly, critics castigate projects like this as a gigantic waste of money.

Nevertheless, NASA should continue it. Because it could help to ensure the survival of humanity. Our species is threatened with various dangers. She creates most of them herself, such as global warming in combination with the dramatically growing world population. But natural disasters such as the impact of a large meteorite or eruptions of super volcanoes could end our existence. That is why scientists have long been calling for an alternative home in space to be found - in the event that our planet actually becomes uninhabitable.

Existential dangers loom as early as the next century

Most recently, the paralyzed British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking prophesied such an apocalypse. He sees the greatest danger in the risks that technical progress creates for our fragile earth. Nuclear terrorism, climate change, the rise of artificial intelligence and genetically modified viruses would become existential threats as early as the next century.

Over time, Hawking said, the risks are likely to accumulate; in the end, humanity may have self-extinguished. If it fails to colonize another planet, it will not survive for the next 1,000 to 10,000 years. Until then, our species would have time to expand in space, so that the devastation of the earth does not mean the end of the human race. The most obvious way to do this is to colonize Mars.

Magnetic bubble would be the first step towards terraforming

NASA's magnetic bubble would then be the first step towards “terraforming”. This is what planetologists call the transformation of an uninhabitable celestial body into an earth-like world. After all, physicists are already researching miniature versions of the magnetosphere to protect astronauts and spaceships from cosmic rays. On a larger scale, this same technology could also envelop Mars.

As simulations show, the magnetic bubble could slow down the loss of the Martian atmosphere and increase the atmospheric pressure to half that of the earth's air pressure within a few years. As a result, the average temperature of the red planet of minus 55 degrees Celsius would increase by around four degrees. Then the carbon dioxide ice could evaporate on the northern polar cap, which increases the greenhouse effect.

That way, the temperature would rise to areas where the water ice melts and turns into rivers, streams, and lakes. According to NASA researchers, this could happen within a few generations.

Reshaping Mars would be a Herculean task

Terrraforming in the true sense of the word, they emphasize, but that is not what it is. "We would not change the climate artificially, we would simply allow nature again to go its former path protected by a planetary magnetic field," says the director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA, Jim Green. "If this succeeds within a human lifetime, a practicable and successful colonization of Mars would not be far off."

The complete redesign of the red planet would be a Herculean task. After increasing its temperature, the world designers must create a breathable atmosphere with sufficient oxygen. This could be done by machines that imitate the process of photosynthesis.

The ozone shield builds up by itself

This would have to go hand in hand with the establishment of plants, initially simple species such as algae, lichens and bacteria that can exist under low pressure, with little sunlight and without oxygen. Taller plants should follow later. Fortunately, the ozone shield to protect against solar UV radiation then builds up by itself.

A brute method to accelerate planetary transformation would be to deflect comets or asteroids in space so that they crash onto Mars. They would provide water and greenhouse gases and at the same time increase the planet's mass. According to calculations by researchers, however, it would take a million comets with a diameter of one kilometer to create an atmosphere with sufficient air pressure.

Realizing the plan could take 100,000 years

At the end of this process, the red planet would be warmer, more humid, green, and surrounded by a dense atmosphere, as it possibly was 3.5 to 4 billion years ago. But the periods of time that the forming process takes are unclear. According to a model calculation, it could take over 100,000 years for a sufficiently dense oxygen atmosphere to build up.

So far, such ideas have been pure utopia. Titanic amounts of substance have to be converted. In addition, there is a lack of space technology for the necessary transports to Mars. Many experts therefore consider terraforming to be ruled out. Instead, we should use all available means to keep the earth habitable.

Nasa should continue development

Nevertheless, it should be worthwhile to research the technologies that can create a second home for mankind if necessary. So NASA should continue to develop the technologies necessary to create an artificial magnetosphere.