Scientists from NASA are looking to implant an artificial magnetic field around Mars in the hope of making the planet inhabitable one day. Plans for the ambitious move were outlined by the director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, James Green, speaking at the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop conference in Washington last week. Mars initially had its own magnetic field about 4 billion years ago but this diminished over time leaving the planet with no atmosphere or moisture, and as a result, not fit for habitation.
In his keynote outline, Green mentioned that “This is not terraforming as you may think of it where we actually artificially change the climate, but we let nature do it, and we do that based on the physics we know today.”
Right now anyone living on Mars would be exposed to harmful radiation but Green has described the idea as involving a “magnetic shield” launched in a stable orbit between Mars and the Sun which would protect the planet from solar winds and radiation, allowing Mars to slowly restore its atmosphere over the course of a few years. It might even allow liquid water to flow on the surface once again.
The focus of countless sci-fi films and now the dream of many entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and the SpaceX project, the idea that one day Mars could be inhabited by humans is becoming increasingly real. Growing concern about the fate of humanity on Earth makes this an even more interesting and vital possibility, as we look for solutions to the uncertainty of the future.