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Forget Tents, NASA Proposes Magnetic Shield for Mars

Unlike the film Martian, no inflammable tents, nor any incubation hutments are on the project guidelines of NASA for future Mars mission but it is proposing a bold, unprecedented plan that could shield the entire Mars from solar winds and give it back its atmosphere that could make it habitable for future human colonies.

By its terraform project, NASA hopes the Martian environment would see liquid water flows again on its surface. NASA believes that Mars once had a thick atmosphere with deep oceans filled with water, and a warmer habitable climate but solar winds have changed it over the period, mainly because it had lost its protective magnetic field billions of years ago.

The current hostile Martian atmosphere due to solar winds or high-energy particles projected from the Sun have stripped the Red Planet to its bare red surface now. Elon Musk, SpaceX owner, once suggested that Mars nuking may subdue the atmosphere but it was rejected outright by the space scientists.

NASA is now contemplating to launch a powerful-magnetic shield which can serve as a replacement for Mars’s lost magnetosphere, bringing it back to livable planet in the solar family.

Speaking at the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop last week, NASA Jim Green, said the new project of launching an "artificial magnetosphere" in between Mars and the Sun could hypothetically shield the Red Planet in the extended magnetotail that trails behind the protective field.

"This situation then eliminates many of the solar wind erosion processes that occur with the planet’s ionosphere and upper atmosphere allowing the Martian atmosphere to grow in pressure and temperature over time," said the project paper.

Currently, miniature magnetosphere to protect astronauts and spacecraft from cosmic radiation is already underway and the new plan envisages it at a larger and bigger scale. "We need to be able then to also modify that direction of the magnetic field so that it always pushes the solar wind away," said Green.

Once the solar radiation is stopped, Mars’s atmosphere can regain its losses in a few years. It has estimated that once the atmosphere becomes thicker, Mars’s climate would become 4 degrees Celsius warmer and begin to melt carbon dioxide ice over the northern polar cap.

Once this happens, the carbon in the atmosphere would trap heat, triggering a greenhouse effect that could melt Mars’s water ice, giving back its liquid water, which means Earth-like flowing rivers and oceans. It means in a couple of generations, Mars could become habitable. "If this can be achieved in a lifetime, the colonisation of Mars would not be far away," said Green.

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