Mars: Should we create an artificial magnetosphere to make the planet habitable?

Mars: Should we create an artificial magnetosphere to make the planet habitable?

The solar wind destroyed the atmosphere of Mars

The Mars It is one of the four terrestrial planets – rocky planets – in our solar system. Rocky and desert, covered with dust rich in iron oxide of red color. Its surface shows many traces of an eventful past marked by intense volcanic activity and continuous bombardment of meteorites.

Although it is located in Habitable area from the sunIt’s completely different from our blue planet. The temperature there is on average -60°C and the atmosphere consists of 95.32% carbon dioxide, 2.7% nitrogen and only 0.13% oxygen. The water appears to be present in the solid form of ice mixed with carbon dioxide ice at both poles of the planet. The traces of flow visible on the surface of the Red Planet indicate that water in liquid form would have flowed there. 4 billion years ago, Mars was already much more favorable with oceans and a denser atmosphere with higher temperatures.

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How can a planet turn into a deserted cold place like Mars today? When this planet had oceans and an atmosphere, there was a magnetic field generated by the effect of the dynamo in its metal core that protected it from the terrible solar wind. This stream of plasma of ions, protons, and electrons emitted by the sun spreads through space at lightning speed, which can range from 300 kilometers per second to 800 kilometers per second depending on solar activity.

However, during its evolution, the planet’s magnetic field has weakened so much that solar wind Its atmosphere gradually “eroded” and bombarded Mars with devastating cosmic rays.

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Repairing the magnetic field of the red planet

© Esteban de Armas/Shutterstock

Phobos, one of Mars’ natural satellites, can be used to replenish the red planet’s magnetic field.

To be able to one day hope to “remake” Mars and establish human colonies there, it is essential to be able to re-establish magnetic field Capable of protecting the planet from solar winds and high-energy cosmic particles.

>> Read also: “Travel to Mars: What effects can be expected on the human body?”

Many ideas to recreate a Synthetic magnetosphere Just released by scholars, including the use of solenoids Placed on the surface of Mars or in orbit to provide basic protection. However, to provide effective protection against the solar wind and high-energy particles in the universe, it would be necessary to be able to create a flow of particles into or around the planet.

The second solution seems the most interesting. For scientists, it would be possible to create a ring of particles whose role is to scatter cosmic rays and the solar wind using one of the Two moons of Mars, Phobos. Also called Mars 1, it is the two largest celestial bodies orbiting the Red Planet. It is very close to the planet, so it orbits every eight hours.

Annular cloud around Mars

The study suggests that dust on Phobos’ surface could ionize and accelerate to form a kind of plasma torus along the Martian satellite’s orbit. This ring cloud should be strong enough to generate a magnetic field capable of protecting the entire surface of Mars.

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Once this magnetic field is in place, humans will be able to visualize the “rehabilitation” of the Red Planet. The first task will be to re-create a file Mars atmosphere Suitable to allow humans to develop without pressurized suits. The current atmospheric pressure on Mars is about 100 times lower than the atmospheric pressure on Earth. At this level of pressure, body fluids begin to boil at 37°C. This phenomenon occurs on Earth at an altitude of 18900-19350 meters. It’s about Limit Armstrong From the name of the American soldier and doctor who identified this phenomenon. This is the reason why fighter pilots wear pressure suits.

If this plan to prepare Mars for human arrival on its soil seems ambitious and achievable in theory, it is no less complicated in practical application. The scientists and engineers of the future responsible for its realization will face incredibly complex technical challenges. For example, the amount of energy required to ionize and accelerate soil particles in Phobos is enormous. The researchers calculated that this would represent the amount of energy consumed on Earth in one year, or roughly 1017 Joules! They have already brought up the idea of ​​using nuclear fission To generate this huge amount of energy.

>> Read also: “We have planted alfalfa on Mars … or almost!”

This study looks forward-looking and is in many ways. However, even if the obstacles are numerous, it is time to ask questions, suggest ideas and think of solutions if we are to imagine that man could one day set foot and live. Horus La RougeAs the ancient Egyptians called it.

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