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Scientists propose man-made magnetic field for Mars

Mars ESA flickr exomars

Mars is an inhospitable world with an atmosphere that has been stripped away over billions of years. However, scientists at a recent conference have proposed the introduction of a man-made magnetosphere to greatly improve matters.

According to Universe Today, NASA’s planetary sciences division held the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop last week, to talk about the future of planetary exploration.

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The workshop saw one presentation which proposed that a man-made magnetic field be used on the Red Planet.

“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,” the presentation explained.

Why create a magnetic field?

A thicker atmosphere would make landings easier then, but a man-made magnetic field would also result in warmer temperatures, melting ice on the Red Planet.

Additionally, a thicker atmosphere would “shield against most cosmic and solar particle radiation, extend the ability for oxygen extraction, and provide ‘open air’ greenhouses to exist for plant production, just to name a few”.

The scientists propose a magnetic dipole field at the Mars L1 Lagrange, adding that, while this technology sounds “fanciful”, research is already progressing on miniature magnetospheres to protect spacecraft and astronauts. The scientists say that it’s “quite possible” in the future to erect an inflatable structure or structures to generate a magnetic field at a force powerful enough to protect against solar wind.

A magnetic field for Mars could be key to making it more hospitable for future astronauts and landers

What about projected results from the magnetic field?

“It has been determined that an average change in the temperature of Mars of about four degrees Celsius will provide enough temperature to melt the CO2 veneer over the northern polar cap,” the presentation revealed. It’s estimated that a seventh of the planet’s ancient ocean is trapped in the cap.

Featured image: European Space Agency via Flickr

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