Dreams of the far future

Ever since the discovery of a potential Earth-like planet rotating around Proxima Centauri last week (see our related blog post), many people the world over have wondered what an alien world could possibly look like.
One way to answer that is to hypothesize about distant landscapes by harnessing the power of computers.  One software engineer did just that a while ago, by imagining what a terraformed Mars would look like.  Here is what our planetary neighbor looks like now:
Image credit: NASA
And here is what the two longitudinal hemispheres would potentially look like, via Kevin Gill’s renderings:
Both images credit: Kevin Gill
While these images look beautiful, they’re not entirely accurate – more just artistic interpretations of how Mars may look if we applied similar aspects of Earth’s biome to Mars.  However, Mars has many limitations that prevent it from possibly ever looking like this:
– Mars has a solid iron core, which means it doesn’t generate a strong enough magnetic field, which also means the atmosphere is currently bombarded by lethal solar radiation and cosmic rays.
– Mars also doesn’t rotate in the same manner as the Earth, which means what we know as days on Earth are much much longer on Mars.  Imagine summer evenings above the Arctic Circle, but a lot longer.
– Oh, and there’s not enough water on Mars to be sustainable. Really not that much. At all.
But that doesn’t mean that the terraformed images of Mars shown above won’t EVER happen, we just don’t have the technology to make it happen now.  Plus, perhaps instead of trying to get off planet Earth and moving to a terraformed Mars or even traveling 4.25 light years to Proxima Centauri B, maybe we should try to make our planet a little better and livable now.  That may be the most radical idea of all.

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