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Just read this article on the Martian environment. I wonder if it could cause problems for proposed terraforming?

https://amp.theguardian.com/science/2017...sts-reveal

Edit: Sorry, just realized I've posted this in the wrong area. Could someone move it please.
DoneSmile

Todd
I think people often forget just how insanely huge of a task terraforming would be. Managing a tiny percentage reduction of carbon in earths atmosphere is a hugely costly endeavour, let alone drastically altering the atmosphere of Mars and transplanting a sustainable biosphere.

Point being if you approach the level of technological sophistication and economic size that terraforming is a possibility for you you'll be able to deal with toxic soil deposits.
I've always been concerned with the lack of a Martian magnetic field to protect a terraformed atmosphere from being striped away. This problem always seems to be overlooked in terraforming proposals.
Realistically how long would it take for the atmosphere to be stripped away? Given the fact that it would have to be significantly thickened anyway by artificial means it doesn't seem much of a stretch to imagine that a post-terraformed Martian society would occasionally top it up as needed.
Regarding the soil issue - various options. Terraformers could:

a) Deploy self-replicating soil processors across the planet to convert the soil into something that could support life. Depending on the sophistication of the tech, these might be the size of a large building - or the size of a Earthworm. In OA, and based on what we describe for the situation on Mercury, they would probably be about the size of a bulldozer or maybe a farm animal.

b) Gengineer up some kind of plant or other lifeform that could consume the toxic materials and either sequester them or convert them to something more life friendly.

c) Modify the overall planetary conditions in some fashion such that the toxic materials are neutralized or bound up in something else or the like.

Regarding planetary magnetic fields - In the OA setting, an artificial magnetosphere was created as part of the Mars terraforming process to help protect the planet. Presumably similar things are routinely done throughout the setting once the tech was perfected at Mars and other early terraforming projects during the Federation and such.

Todd
From what I understand Mars's core is dormant. Has any serious work ever been done into reheating a planetary core. It would seem like a logical direction for a longterm terraforming project.

A magnetic shield, though practical, would strike me as an interim measure. Such structures are susceptible to failure or sabotage as shown in 2312.

Regarding the soil toxicity, how does the chemistry work for filtering out chlorite (I'm not a chemist)
I believe most of the toxic materials are things like superoxides and peroxides. Both of these decompose quite rapidly if exposed to water; make Mars wetter and at least some of the problem goes away. Superoxides produce gaseous oxygen which is no problem; peroxides produce hydrogen peroxide, which doesn't last very long especially if there are catalysts present. It so happens that various transition metal oxides are good catalysts for this reaction - including iron oxide, in plentiful supply.

There are also perchlorates present, and I admit they would be more of a problem. However, as the linked article implied, Martian organisms would have had several billion years to evolve the use of perchlorate as an oxidant. Not impossible, I think; it ought to be remembered that quite a lot of Earthly bugs find oxygen lethal. Obviously, not all of them. Smile
The process of terraforming Mars in OA takes several thousand years, and the end result would be toxic to an unaltered human. The flora and fauna on Mars in the 11th millennium almost completely consists of genetically altered organisms that can tolerate high levels of greenhouse gases, including high levels of carbon dioxide.

Early attempts at terraforming Mars would include organisms capable of tolerating and metabolising perclorates, but I expect that the earliest biomes on that planet would smell of bleach.

Restarting the core rotation of a planet to create a long-lasting 'natural' magnetosphere is not beyond OA technology, but it is rarely used, since it requires much more energy than creating an artificial magnetosphere - and also there is a risk of extreme and violent geological activity on the planet's surface.
(07-07-2017, 03:40 AM)Duddy9 Wrote: [ -> ]From what I understand Mars's core is dormant. Has any serious work ever been done into reheating a planetary core. It would seem like a logical direction for a longterm terraforming project.

A magnetic shield, though practical, would strike me as an interim measure. Such structures are susceptible to failure or sabotage as shown in 2312.

Regarding the soil toxicity, how does the chemistry work for filtering out chlorite (I'm not a chemist)

Somewhere in the depths of my old Analogs there's an article about re-energizing the Earth's core billions of years in the future. I don't recall much about it, and might be able to dig it up again if folks are really interested. I do seem to recall that it wasn't particularly interesting in its content.

Moving beyond that, as Steve mentions it is probably possible for Y11k tech to do this sort of thing. But it might not generally be considered to be worth the bother, as well as being tricky to do without also turning the surface of the planet molten in the process.

A couple of more direct and easily done methods might be:

a) Worldhouse the planet and include superconducting magnetic shielding in the structure - OA tech has had room temp superconductors since very early in the timeline (pre-First Federation).

b) Build superconducting magnetic windings around the planet (probably on or under the surface), similar to the method proposed by Dyson for spinning up a planet - but probably lower power. Use these to generate a planetary magnetic field.

You could also gengineer the planetary ecology to increase its radiation resistance.

Finally, it should be noted that with OA tech, it is fairly straightforward to make a lot of technology self-repairing and self-maintaining, similar to how biological lifeforms can heal in RL. As such, an orbital mag-shield, or the two planet based versions mentioned above could all be self-repairing and tremendously long-lived (functionally immortal probably). This wouldn't necessarily protect against deliberate attacks, but if someone wanted to really hurt the planet, they could likely find a way regardless of whether or not a 'natural' magnetic field was in place or not.

Just some thoughts,

Todd
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