Obligatory HHGTTG quote.
"It's OK, but it smells a bit".
NASA has announced it will in 2013 send a robotic mission to Mars to sniff the Red Planet's atmosphere and gain insights into how most of it was lost. The $485m Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft - judged as boasting the "best science value and lowest implementation risk" of 20 mission proposals - will " …
First, the Great Water hunt - in search of non-existent water.
Second, the Great Atmosphere hunt - in search of non-existent atmosphere.
It can't be long now before NASA announces the Great Martian hunt. Some clown will stand up and say "Look here are the footprints", a financial bun-fight will follow, and NASA will despatch space probes with robotic legs having various sized plastic feet to see if any fit the evidence. The conclusion is foregone.
They should stay at home untl they can explain just how an atmosphere 1% as dense as that on Earth, and with considerably less incipient solar radiation, can generate dust devils that grow to envelop the planet. Where is the energy coming from? The answer is not Martians with dust-making machines, war-dancing, or hiding from NASA. And it's not jinn, or micro black holes, or HIggs bloody bosons.
P.S. Need 3 icons, like snafu, etc, but flagging pissed-offedness - Snapo, Tarpo, Pobar. This comment is only Tarpo. I'd have to be a professional physicist to justify Pobar, but I'm seriously tempted by this Mars racket.
Terraforming has been a popular subject when discussing Mars for decades. However, there are various problems. The atmosphere - way too thin and if 'thickened' it will always leak away, as has been said, by a combination of low gravity and Solar wind stripping as there is no magnetic field to deflect the wind. Radiation - way too high, again as there is no magnetic field. Plant and animal life would have a hard time and die off easily, microbial life (specially selected for radiation endurance) might be about it. Even if it were possible to do any decent level of terraforming, all humans would still have to walk around in radiation protective suits with personal air supplies.
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