The World of Science: Terraforming

By: James Baratta

What would it be like to set foot on a land that you could only see through a telescope? Imagine yourself as an astronaut on another planet in our galaxy. You glance above over the horizon and just barely spot a blue speck in the distance. What you would be looking at is our planet…millions of miles away. You then gaze above and see the rings of Saturn stretched above you; perfectly sedentary. You continue to stare in pure awe as your eyes widen at the massive planet that exists, bound by nothing but the gravity that exists between it, the sun, and its moons. Imagine the feeling that would burn within…

This could be made possible by terraforming.

What is terraforming? The exact definition of terraforming is the transformation of  a planet to resemble Earth and sustain human life. In other words…humans could live on their own moon or even on their  own Mars. So, why can’t we live  anywhere else in the galaxy?

Well, as of now, we are not prepared to venture past Mars; our technology is not that advanced yet. Terraforming a planet, or even our moon, which is not too far from us at all, will be an arduous task for mankind to embark upon. Not to mention a prolonged one, but that does not mean it is not possible? The first step into space colonization starts with our moon.

Why would we desire to colonize other planets? The colonization of other planets will allow a majority of the issues we face on Earth to become solved. A couple of these issues include overpopulation and shortage of space for farmland.

What would be the disadvantages to terraforming our own moon? Our moon is a confusing place. In fact, during midday, the temperature can spike to 123 degrees fahrenheit and at night it can drop to -233 degrees celsius. Unlike the 24 hours in our day, an average day on the moon is 655 hours, the night lasting 354 hours. This amount of time is equivalent to almost a month on Earth. This lack of light would make it extremely difficult to obtain solar energy that has the potential to power entities necessary to survive. Another disadvantage is the inability to farm from the moon’s surface. This disadvantage could be easily altered to become nonexistent by the use of greenhouses in which soil is brought to the moon itself. A prominent and unavoidable disadvantage to terraforming our moon or any planet is the over-time horizon effect which leads to depression.

Although there are some disadvantages to colonizing our moon, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: There are some advantages to colonizing our own moon! The first one being that the space that exists on the surface can be utilized for humans to live upon due to the growing population; the second  being the elements and minerals that exist within it. Although some of the minerals within the moon are present on Earth in sufficient quantities, we could still obtain other elements(helium, which is becoming rare)/minerals that can be of use to mankind and a method of continuing space exploration; as well as colonization. I call this the “Startup Money Method”.

On Earth, there are enough materials to allow mankind to reach the moon and colonize it. The materials that are present within the moon can be obtained and added to the resources that exist in our supply on Earth. The attainment of these resources will allow us to reach another planet and colonize it. This planet being Mars. As we continue through space, we will gain resources and allow the expansion of mankind; theoretically, a growing business sprouting from a small business. As we gain more resources, our business will “boom” into a profitable company

Let’s talk about Mars

Mars, the red planet that we yearn to attain accelerated knowledge about, lies closest to Earth as another planet for possible habitation. Mars has the ability to become terraformed, but it would make terraforming our moon look like a walk in the park. As humans, we adapt and can adapt to various environments, but Mars is different. The desolate planet is bashed with radiation. This radiation is extremely prominent; more prominent than what our limit is on Earth. The temperature on Mars ranges from -81 degrees fahrenheit to 86 degrees fahrenheit being the hottest. Mars’ atmosphere mostly consists of carbon dioxide due to a lack of an ozone layer. An atmosphere could be created with time, but other options could be taken in order to allow mankind to inhabit Mars.

A few methods of terraforming Mars would be to start off by paraterraforming and establishing possible mining sites upon Mars and then growing algae to produce oxygen although too much oxygen on Mars could become dangerous or any planet for that matter. The plant growth of the planet would have to be controlled.Paraterraforming is creating a habitable environment within a secluded area on a planet such as a cavern or more theoretically speaking, a domed city. This method of survival possesses a more logical ability to set mankind’s foot on Mars. The gravity would cause humans to become weak and to deteriorate muscle mass. This causes  an inability to complete needed tasks. One of the most direct effects would be the depression caused by the over-time horizon effect as discussed earlier.

Looking at these disadvantages plants a feeling of discouragement within a person such as myself, but there is a fire that dimly continues to burn within; hope. Mankind does not have to examine a single planet for possible colonization, but these planets to be considered are quite far from Earth. This does not mean that terraforming or even paraterraforming are impossible tasks.

As said, mankind can adapt. We have adapted to the worst of the worst over our minute existence since approximately 2.5 million years ago. We have the ability to adapt to what dangers lie in the vast existence known as our solar system. Ideas pertaining to how to colonize planets have been generated across the globe. As time continues infinitely,  the years that lie ahead hold great ideas that will add onto the knowledge we possess; expanding onto it in ways  that  will take us one step closer to colonizing other lands besides the ones that exist upon our planet.

    Terraforming, as well as paraterraforming, have the potential to solve the issues that exist on Earth in which there are no solutions for at the present moment. Sooner than later, mankind will utilize a majority of the space on Earth that is needed to sustain our almost 8 billion person population. Mankind must utilize the resources it already possesses before it is  depleted in order to ensure mankind’s survival. This great quest will eventually become essential to the survival of mankind into the far, far future in our unquenchable thirst for knowledge and discovery of what lies beyond our blue planet.

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One Response to The World of Science: Terraforming

  1. very interesting thought provoking

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