In the event of a catastrophic event on the same scale as the asteroid that helped to extinguish the dinosaurs roughly 66 million years ago, humanity’s greatest chance for survival might be on another planet. Mars, despite it’s current hostile environment, is similar to Earth. It is perhaps the most viable candidate for terraformation and eventually colonization. Terraforming Mars is no easy task – it’s a long term, massive engineering project that will take over 1,000 or more years to complete. The payoff? An entirely new planet to call our home. It’s a backup plan for the mistakes we’ve made on Earth.
Futurism developed an infographic that provides a reasonably practical guide to terraforming Mars in four phases: Warming, Watering, Fertilizing, and Populating. While the mission is theoretically possible, it’s not without it’s challenges, including the cost (trillions of dollars), protection from cosmic rays (during travel and on the planet), reduced gravity on the planet, a thin atmosphere, a lack of a magnetosphere, and a lack of active plate tectonics. Additionally, is it ethical to literally change the biological face of a planet? Do Earthlings have the right to do this? Which countries would be involved in the mission – and would they be able to work together? How are “countries” even managed on another planet?
Perhaps Mars is humanity’s best bet, but we shouldn’t overlook Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus, or its largest moon, Titan. We might also consider Jupiter’s moons, Europa and Ganymede. No matter the location, terraforming a distant planet or moon would probably follow somewhat similar phased approach.
Terraforming Mars: A Practical Guide