SpaceX is preparing a mission in a few years and NASA’s moon missions seen as a stepping stone to the red planet, but the cold, hard truth is this: Mars desires to kill you. Its gravity is detrimental to bones and muscular tissues, it provides little protection from radiation, and it’s the cold climate. If humans want to colonize Mars, they’ll have to come up with unique methods to survive there.
Enter “frozen smoke.” An international crew of scientists is proposing the use of silica aerogel, typically dubbed frozen smoke because of its appearance, to heat the surface of the red planet enough to support life and melt chilled H2O. The aerogel is a very lightweight material already being manufactured on Earth is presently used in NASA’s Mars rovers as insulation. The study states, essentially created Mars-in-a-box, simulating the light that hits the planet’s surface in the laboratory and placing a layer of aerogel, around an inch thick, excessive.
“We used a solar simulator to reproduce the spectrum and intensity of the sunlight falling on the Martian surface,” mentioned Robin Wordsworth, first author on the research.
He said the experiments were designed because existing ideas to modify Mars atmosphere on a global scale seem “very hard to achieve.” As a substitute, the team needed to duplicate the effects of Earth’s atmosphere on the distant planet on a much smaller scale.
The team worried that if Mars is to made habitable shortly, there are philosophical and ethical questions that require serious mulling over, especially if Mars still incorporates life in the present day. If we want to begin transporting humans and, inevitably, microorganisms from Earth to Mars, those invasive species could threaten life already present on the red planet. We don’t know yet that Mars at the moment supports any living, but it has been proposed as an answer to some of Mars’ enduring mysteries. The authors observe that creating a self-contained system as described in the paper wouldn’t support life outdoors of the aerogel-shielded spaces.
Wordsworth quoted he plans to conduct more lab experiments to “explore a greater range of Mars environmental constraints,” in addition to continuing the computer simulation work. Fieldwork is also planned using Mars-like websites here on Earth, where the research team can venture out and test their aerogel shields in the environment.