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Mars Atmosphere And Magnetic Field

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  1. Nov 16, 2011 #1
    So often I see shows on TV discussing the seemingly inevitable terraforming of Mars by humans. These shows generally talk about the challenges in creating an atmosphere (basically, heating up the frozen carbon dioxide to release greenhouse gases), thereafter releasing all of Mars' water, and eventually oxygen. However, from my reading I thought it was generally believed that Mars' small size and limited gravity made it very difficult for it to hold onto an atmosphere. If this is true, then why would we even waste time creating an atmosphere at all? Wouldn't it just be a waste of time?

    Secondly, Mars has no magnetic field to protect it from solar flares and CME's and from cosmic rays and other sources of radiation from outer space. This point is always glossed over by popular science shows as a "minor" hurdle. However, it seems major to me. Therefore, my second question is whether it is possible to artificially generate a magnetic field big enough to protect an entire planet the size of Mars. If so, how might one generate such a field? Is it even possible?
     
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  3. Nov 16, 2011 #2

    Drakkith

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    The atmosphere would take a long time to be lost. It would not happen in just a few years.

    Generating a magnetic field of sufficient strength over such a large area is...difficult...to say the least. It would require a very large amount of power. I don't know how much though. Probably much more than we could feasibly achieve in the near future. And that's ignoring how you would generate it in the first place.
     
  4. Dec 10, 2011 #3
    Pretty much we couldn't indefinitely fuel an artificially magnetic field that size. However they assume mars had its own magnetic field at one point, so if we could "jump start" the core of mars then it could sustain its own field. Also doing that would better hold ionized atmospheric particles (I think) such as ozone and whatnot.
     
  5. Dec 11, 2011 #4

    Drakkith

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    While that may be plausible, it is far from feasible. The amount of energy required would be absolutely enormous.
     
  6. Dec 11, 2011 #5
  7. Dec 11, 2011 #6

    Drakkith

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