Forgetting about the infinite possibilities of the universe is, unfortunately, very easy to do during times of grave national nonsense. That's why keeping NASA on the brain is a key defense mechanism in the fight against dumbassery. At this week's Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop in Washington D.C., the unparalleled awesomeness of the NASA brain trust was on full display via some Mars-centered pondering from Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green.
Green discussed the possibility of launching a magnetic shield into a stable orbit between the Sun and the Red Planet, Popular Mechanics reported Wednesday. The idea, Green said, is to protect Mars from the continued damage of high-energy solar particles. Achieving the higher field strengths required for proper shielding, according to Green, "may be feasible." If that hurdle is cleared, Green said we then need to find a way to "modify the direction of the magnetic field so that it always pushes the solar wind away."
In an accompanying paper entitled A Future Mars Environment for Science and Exploration, the current Mars situation is outlined in detail:
Today, Mars is an arid and cold world with a very thin atmosphere that has significant frozen and underground water resources. The thin atmosphere both prevents liquid water from residing permanently on its surface and makes it difficult to land missions since it is not thick enough to completely facilitate a soft landing. In its past, under the influence of a significant greenhouse effect, Mars may have had a significant water ocean covering perhaps 30% of the northern hemisphere.
Once Mars lost its protective magnetosphere billions of years ago, solar wind started fucking everything up. This shield, in theory, could help Mars hit an atmospheric pressure more akin to Earth's. In fact, the planet could potentially reach half the atmospheric pressure of our current home in "a matter of years." According to Green, "perhaps one-seventh of the ancient ocean could return to Mars."
Sounds good. Let's make something happen. Time is, um, kinda of the essence.