Terraforming Mars - right or wrong?

A place to vote. This section is for any thread with a poll in it. (Though it is okay to start polls in other sections too).

Would it be ethically right to terraform Mars?

Yes
9
69%
No
3
23%
Don't know
1
8%
 
Total votes : 13

Posts: 97

Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:59 am

Post Thu Sep 16, 2010 2:24 am

Re: Terraforming Mars - right or wrong?

You would need those rates and values anyway, which at this point are purely hypothetical/theoretical.

Also CO2 is denser and displaces O2 (and N2 which is a by far bigger component of an Earth-like atmosphere). So unless you could magically exchange Mar's current atmosphere with one from Earth's, what will happen is that as you convert or add O2, N2, even by decomposition of native CO2, the lighter O2 is going to float to the top and be lost first. And O2 loves to be broken down into ozone, link up with a nice solar wind hydrogen ion and elope. So the hole in the bucket will get bigger the longer and faster you convert it. If you aren't careful and set up some irreversible run away process, at the end you my leave Mars with nothing but a trace atmosphere of N2 and whatever is still leaking out of the rocks...
User avatar

Site Admin

Posts: 245

Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:36 pm

Location: London

Post Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:07 am

Re: Terraforming Mars - right or wrong?

JamesG wrote:You would need those rates and values anyway, which at this point are purely hypothetical/theoretical.

Yes, absolutely. Without the numbers and the equations this tells us nothing so far. I'm just trying to narrow down what it is that we need to know.

In addition to what I said in my last post, we also need some sort of mathematical model for the removal of gas molecules from the upper parts of the column by the solar wind. And unfortunately, because of the weaker gravity, more of the gas in the column will be at high altitudes (and thus exposed to possible removal by the solar wind) than would be the case if Mars had the same gravity as Earth.

JamesG wrote:Also CO2 is denser and displaces O2 (and N2 which is a by far bigger component of an Earth-like atmosphere). So unless you could magically exchange Mar's current atmosphere with one from Earth's, what will happen is that as you convert or add O2, N2, even by decomposition of native CO2, the lighter O2 is going to float to the top and be lost first. And O2 loves to be broken down into ozone, link up with a nice solar wind hydrogen ion and elope. So the hole in the bucket will get bigger the longer and faster you convert it. If you aren't careful and set up some irreversible run away process, at the end you my leave Mars with nothing but a trace atmosphere of N2 and whatever is still leaking out of the rocks...

Now this I'm not worried about. In a perfect gas, the molecules are too far apart to interact with one another. My understanding is that even at atmospheric pressure at sea level on Earth, the atmosphere still behaves pretty much like a perfect gas. Its components don't interact much. They don't displace one another, for instance.

You can see this from the CO2. Mars has more CO2 in its atmosphere than the Earth, but not very much more. Maybe twice as much? On Earth, the CO2 in the atmosphere doesn't displace the oxygen and nitrogen away from the planet's surface. If it did, we would all have suffocated by now. Instead, all the gases are intermingled nicely and I can't see why they wouldn't do the same on Mars if we added lots of extra oxygen and nitrogen there.

Posts: 97

Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:59 am

Post Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:37 pm

Re: Terraforming Mars - right or wrong?

Earth has much more heating and convection to mix things up, plus the CO2 is mostly at trace levels. I think the analogy for Mars would be Earth's water vapor suspension. And that does show stratification.

Even without it, free oxygen will escape more readily than just about anything short of H and the other noble gases.

Posts: 13

Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:57 pm

Post Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:11 pm

Re: Terraforming Mars - right or wrong?


Before organisms from earth are seeded onto Mars' surface, there should me a much more thorough search for indigenous life.
Perhaps the polar caps can be melted with huge mirrors, allowing some of the permafrost to evaporate and thicken the atmosphere. This may help awaken some dormant indigenous life forms. After Mars has been warmed up and no life has been found, the seeding with Earthlife may begin. Manned missions occurring before this should take additional care not to contaminate stuff with their germs.
richdecabo wrote:green planet's comment is typical of people who do not understand humans nor science. it is not a question of ethics. we will colonize mars as we have done
this world. one can ask was it ethical of columbus and the europeans to colonize america though it caused the virtual extinction of the indians.
not a question because we have built the best country in the world..
According to which criterion have "you" built the best cuntry in the world? Is medical experimentation on humans not ethically questionable? After all, it does advance medicine more effectively than experimenting on other animals.

richdecabo wrote:colonizing is part of our nature and we will do it regardless of ethics which does not apply here.
Ethics:
ethics (uncountable)
(philosophy) The study of principles relating to right and wrong conduct.
Morality.
The standards that govern the conduct of a person, especially a member of a profession.

By what justification does ethics not apply here?

richdecabo wrote:so get off this ecological crap and face reality. it is out nature and you or no one will alter that. and a little history for green planet and others like him/her..
this planet has been through a lot more hellish attacks than humans. we have not wiped out 67% 83% and 89% of all life as three huge meteors have in the past.
Earth can take a lot more than you give credit for. it will be ok and we will be fine and besides, the article is saying centuries to transform, not tomorrow like so many of you environmentalists or environmental cases as i call you.
Earth can withstand everything humans can do to it for sure. But can humanity?

Posts: 13

Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:57 pm

Post Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:19 pm

Re: Terraforming Mars - right or wrong?

JamesG wrote:Wishful thinking that vastly underestimates how inhospitable Mars is.

Mars will never be terraform-able as most envision it (a synthetic Earth). It is simply to small, to cold, and its atmosphere to thin to ever support Terran biology. I doubt you'd even be able to gene-engineer something tough enough to function in that environment. The best we'll ever see are domed over craters and canyons to support imported life.

You forget that there's a lot of carbon dioxide there. If the polar icecaps are melted with megalomaniac mirrors, we might kick-start a greenhouse effect with a positive feedback.

Posts: 97

Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:59 am

Post Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:02 pm

Re: Terraforming Mars - right or wrong?

No there isn't. There is less CO2 in Mar's entire atmosphere than the trace amount in Earth's.

The "Polar ice caps" are a seasonal frosting of the CO2 that freezes out of the atmosphere. It would be insignificant for increasing the mean atmospheric pressure.
User avatar

Site Admin

Posts: 245

Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:36 pm

Location: London

Post Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:29 pm

Re: Terraforming Mars - right or wrong?

JamesG wrote:No there isn't. There is less CO2 in Mar's entire atmosphere than the trace amount in Earth's.

Actually my rough calculation seems to indicate that there is more CO2 in Mar's entire atmosphere than the trace amount in Earth's. So far as I can tell from the atmosphere composition figures on Wikipedia, the partial pressure of CO2 at the surface of Mars is probably about twice the partial pressure of CO2 at sea level on Earth.

The atmosphere of Mars is of course far thinner than the Earth's but is 95% CO2, which is why the total amount of CO2 is greater.

Still, even if all the 02 was released from every last molecule of CO2 in Mars' atmosphere, it still wouldn't raise the levels of 02 to even 1/10th of the level we need to breath, unfortunately. You'd have to get most of the 02 some other way. How much water is there on Mars? And is there any economical way to release the 02 from some of the iron oxide that gives the planet that cheerful red colour?

Posts: 97

Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:59 am

Post Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:39 pm

Re: Terraforming Mars - right or wrong?

Are you calculating based on atmospheric pressure and compositional fraction? Did you take into account the diameter/cubic KMs difference between the two?

If you're right I can still trump you by including the CO2 dissolved in the Earth's hydrosphere. :P


Separating the O2 from iron-oxide is energy intensive AND needs a catalysis. I guess you could use the carbon you liberate from atmospheric CO2 to bond with the Fe and then recycle the new CO2 back thru the process again. But you''d need a mind boggling amount of energy. Probably cheaper to maneuver and bombard the planet with asteroids.

Posts: 130

Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:41 am

Location: NSW, Australia

Post Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:12 pm

Re: Terraforming Mars - right or wrong?

i blame blame wrote:Before organisms from earth are seeded onto Mars' surface, there should me a much more thorough search for indigenous life.
Perhaps the polar caps can be melted with huge mirrors, allowing some of the permafrost to evaporate and thicken the atmosphere. This may help awaken some dormant indigenous life forms. After Mars has been warmed up and no life has been found, the seeding with Earthlife may begin. Manned missions occurring before this should take additional care not to contaminate stuff with their germs.

Alternately it could kill the potential, if unlikely ecosystem beneath.

Posts: 97

Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:59 am

Post Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:06 pm

Re: Terraforming Mars - right or wrong?

It would be ironic if the search for life on Mars led to its extinction.

"Today the Mars LIfe Search Probe discovered an amazing native Martian microbial lifeform. The organism was unfortunately destroyed in the test, and the probe has not been able to find another sample for further tests."
PreviousNext

Return to POLLS

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron