Building a Magnetosphere for Mars

mars field
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As I was looking at another students post about terra-forming Mars, I was inspired to do a little digging about the possibility of artificially creating an atmosphere for the Red Planet. Mars currently does not have a strong magnetosphere, meaning that whatever atmosphere would normally be found around the planet is extremely vulnerable to solar winds. One suggestion to circumvent this problem would be to build a small magnetic field for Mars, so that other terra-forming operations could proceed.

This article discusses a NASA proposition to do exactly that. The project would place a large man-made shield to deflect solar wind which would normally deplete the planet’s atmosphere. The article suggests that theoretically, this device would allow Mars’ surface temperature to rise by about 4 degrees Celsius, which may be enough to free enough of the carbon dioxide held in polar ice caps to thicken the atmosphere. The thicker atmosphere would then begin the greenhouse effect, which would heat the surface even further, potentially making life more sustainable on Mars.

Plate Tectonics on Mars

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On Earth we have a variety of geological features which arise due to tectonic activity on the planet’s surface. These features include mountain ranges and deep sea trenches, but tectonic activity is also responsible for earthquakes and some volcanic activity. For quite some time, it was believed that Earth was the only place in our solar system that experienced this type of activity. However, new research has provided evidence that Mars may be in the very early stages of tectonic activity. This article tells how scientists have found evidence of fault lines (like those found in California) from satellite images and the lead researcher, An Yin has suggested the possibility of seismic activity, or “Marsquakes.” One last thing that I found interesting in this piece is that Mars seems to have fewer tectonic plates than the Earth. This is partially due to the smaller total surface area, but Yin suggests that it may also have to do with Mars’ relatively inactive core. Because Mars’ center is cooler and not experiencing the same currents as Earth’s mantle, there is less force acting upon the surface plates.