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Found a way to organize the greenhouse effect on Mars

23.07.2019
Science, Space, Technology

The surface of Mars can be adapted for life with quite specific means: using a material called silica airgel (a substance related to that which is poured into bags to absorb moisture) you can artificially create a greenhouse effect in its atmosphere.
Modeling and experiments by American scientists show that a 2-3 cm thick silica airgel cover can transmit enough visible light to sustain photosynthesis and at the same time protect the surface of the covered area from dangerous ultraviolet radiation. In addition, such means can be used to adjust the temperature, forming a warmer microclimate, and without any internal heat source.

Ways to make Marshall livable have been thought about before, but all of them have recently been declared insolvent for one simple reason: their main principle was to transform Mars into a Earth-like planet using the resources that Mars encompasses.

Scientists hoped that in the future it will be possible to increase atmospheric pressure and raise the temperature due to the greenhouse effect, using Martian gases and the water that is contained in the Martian soil closer to the poles of the planet. However, in 2018, scientists at the University of Arizona and Colorado proved that, even if to use all the resources of Mars, the atmospheric pressure on it will be only 7% of what is on Earth, and such conditions are incompatible with human life.

The idea of ​​scientists from Harvard and Edinburgh Universities, as well as the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is that you can not change the entire planet entirely - you can approach the matter more modestly, regionally. A cover made of silica gel can, according to scientists, make a real oasis on the surface of Mars, simulating the greenhouse effect. The idea was inspired by the processes that naturally occur on Mars.

Unlike the polar caps of the Earth, which consist of frozen water, the polar caps on Mars are frozen carbon dioxide. Like its gaseous form, ice from CO2 retains heat. In the summer, this solid-state greenhouse effect creates hot spots beneath a layer of ice.

“We began to think about this solid greenhouse effect and how it could be used in the future to create habitable environments on Mars,” said Robin Wordsworth, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “And what material would minimize heat transfer, but still pass the maximum light. Scientists agreed on silica gel, one of the most successful insulating materials.

Using simulations and experiments that simulated the surface of Mars, researchers have shown that a thin layer of silica airgel will raise the average temperatures of mid-latitudes on Mars to those on Earth. Thus, this material can be used to create “living caps” or even autonomous biospheres on Mars.