Space X and Tesla founder Elon Musk is considering solar power instead of nukes to warm up Mars.
The Red Planet has long been a potential spot for a space colony. While nuking Mars is a headline-maker, there is some science behind the concept of warming Mars.
In 2006, University of Arizona undergrad Rigel Woida won a NASA prize to study “the use of large aperture, lightweight orbital mirrors for ‘terraforming’ an area of the martian surface so humans could affordably colonize the Red Planet.”
Making Mars habitable for human life is a dream among both scientists and sci-fi enthusiasts. Mars is extremely cold and to build a colony on the planet would require numerous investments in safe housing and space suits to protect humans from the bitter Martian cold. This dream is where Elon Musk comes in.
Musk didn’t specifically mention Woida’s research, but the work ties directly into the reflector concept. Woida published a report in 2007 explaining how this would work; placing a series of satellites in orbit that would reflect the sun’s warmth down onto the surface of Mars.
“Might make sense to have thousands of solar reflector satellites to warm Mars vs artificial suns,” Musk tweeted on August, 20 suggesting that the best option is still “to be determined.”
Musk then went on to clarifying the concept of “nuking Mars” which “refers to a continuous stream of very low fallout nuclear fusion explosions above the atmosphere to create artificial suns. Much like our sun, this would not cause Mars to become radioactive.”
NASA responded to this plan stating that “terraforming Mars isn’t possibly with present-day technology.”
Woida’s research concluded “the engineering requirements needed to complete the heating of a small portion of Mars are attainable.”