Energy

NASA Wants To Build A Force Field, But Will Martians Pay For It?

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

NASA’s Planetary Science Division unveiled a study that proposed building a magnetic force-field around Mars.

The study proposed creating an artificial magnetosphere around the entire planet to shield it from solar wind and radiation. A magnetic shield would allow an atmosphere and large volumes of liquid water to form on Mars.

“A greatly enhanced Martian atmosphere, in both pressure and temperature, that would be enough to allow significant surface liquid water would also have a number of benefits for science and human exploration in the 2040s and beyond,” Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, told Universe Today.

“Much like Earth, an enhanced atmosphere would: allow larger landed mass of equipment to the surface, shield against most cosmic and solar particle radiation, extend the ability for oxygen extraction, and provide ‘open air’ greenhouses to exist for plant production, just to name a few,” Green said.

Researchers suggested the best way to make this shield would be by placing a magnetic dipole at a Lagrange point above Mars. By their calculations, Green and other researchers suspect this would restore approximately one-seventh of Mars’ oceans, which have been gone for at least millions of years. These shifts would allow for humanity to both study the Red Planet in much greater detail and ultimately make it habitable for colonization.

Mars once had the kind of magnetic field NASA hopes to one day rebuild. Roughly 4.2 billion years ago, the Red Planet’s magnetic field suddenly disappeared. This ultimately caused Mars’ atmosphere and water to be slowly lost to space making the planet cold and uninhabitable.

President Donald Trump has expressed interest in space missions that would utilize NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule. The president vowed to “unlock the mysteries of space” in his inaugural address, lending credence to reports that he discussed sending humans to Mars in a private meeting with billionaire Elon Musk.

The U.S. is better prepared to visit Mars than it was to visit the moon in the 1960s, according to a study by NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The total cost of current plans to send Americans to Mars comes out to roughly $35 billion to arrive in 2030.

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