When it comes to Mars, the future is now.
NASA’s Perseverance touched down on the Red Planet in February, and the car-sized Mars rover has been providing Earth with the clearest images of the Martian landscape to date.
Nicknamed Percy, it was designed to explore a crater, Jezero, as well as to scout the planet for evidence of former microbial life, collect rock and soil samples, test oxygen production, and prepare for potential future manned missions.
Getting an up-close and personal look at the Martian world has sparked global interest and reignited the debate on the plausibility of making the planet habitable for human life.
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Unfortunately for anyone hoping to set up camp millions of miles away, the probability of making Mars compatible to human existence is slim.
The Red Planet’s atmospheric pressure is a mere 0.6% of that which exists on Earth, and with an average temperature of -81 degrees Fahrenheit, any liquid water (a major factor in a planet’s climate) would quickly evaporate or freeze.
Along with water, a planet’s atmospheric condition, density, and distance from the sun all play a role in how hot or cold it is. The existence of seasons and the presence of a magnetosphere also play a part, to a lesser extent.
So, is there any way we could heat up the planet enough to keep astronauts from turning into human popsicles?
Sort of. But not really.
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, visionary and CEO, has dabbled for years with the idea of sending people to Mars while expressing a desire to further explore our celestial neighbor.
Musk, who has admitted “people will probably die” during his missions, has suggested exploding nuclear bombs over the planet’s polar caps, which could, in theory, vaporize the lakes of frozen carbon dioxide, which would then warm the planet through the creation of greenhouse gases, melting the planet’s water ice.
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