What would it take to terraform Pluto and Charon?

  1. As in the title What would it take to terraform Pluto and Charon? besides LOTS of money...
    is that possible?...
  2. jcsd
  3. I am not a astronomer or scientist, but first you would have to create an atmosphere strong enough to hold in oxygen and water. Also you would need to be able to grow plants which means that there needs to be enough light energy from the sun to grow the plants to create more oxygen. Also you would need to warm the planet without cuasing harmful gasses to form. And not to forget the time to chat between earth and pluto and having to be able to construct a energy form that comes from small amount to travel there and back to bring stuff to do everything.
  4. Chronos

    Chronos 10,348
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Pluto is so remote you would need a local and sizeable energy source. The sun is little more than an unusually bright star at that distance. It would also lose a lot of mass when you warmed it up, given it is largely a ball of frozen gas.
  5. Bobbywhy

    Bobbywhy 1,864
    Gold Member

    What does terraform mean? Will you please post a reference or two reference so I can learn what it is you are asking about?

    Thank you,
  6. Bobbywhy,
    Terraforming means you take an unhospitable planet and slowly transform it to resemble Earth that's why it is called terraforming... terra means Earth and Form or forming means well i think you allready know what forming means...
  7. Bobbywhy

    Bobbywhy 1,864
    Gold Member

    Thank you, Dark Universe. Please help me once more: what does "slowly transform" mean? How is that process accomplished? Will you please point me towards some scientific journal reference or textbook so I can study up on this?

    Or, am I just incredibly naive and you are describing a "science fiction" process? If yes, please say so. Then I'd have nothing to offer.

    Thanks, Bobbywhy
  8. I presume terraforming in this context means turning a planet, planetoid, ateroid etc into a place where humans or, at least, some higher-order Earth animals can survive unprotected for indefinite period of time.

    If so, first you would need a force of gravity similar to what we have here. It's needed to keep the atmosphere in place. Since we don't know of any other way to create more gravity it would mean more material added to the planet (more mass). It also must be dense enough since we are interested in the -surface- gravity. All of the objects you mentioned are much smaller than Earth so, the very first problem you will run into is transporting pretty much Earth-sized body all the way to Pluto.

    Enough to drop the idea?
  9. davenn

    davenn 4,356
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    since you asked ;)


  10. Well it would make more sense to terraform Mars...

    Terra doesn't mean earth, either. In the scientific world, it just means a planet that is solid, not something that is basically made out of ice or gas.

    Mars already has an atmosphere and has frozen water under its surface (if all of the frozen water on Mars were to be melted, there would be enough water to form a planet-wide ocean), so there's no reason to start from the beginning on an ex-planet like Pluto, when Mars would be far more cooperative to terraform.
  11. Bobbywhy

    Bobbywhy 1,864
    Gold Member

    davenn, Thank you for the informative article “Technological Requirements for Terraforming Mars” by Robert M. Zubrin of Pioneer Astronautics and Christopher P. McKay of NASA Ames Research Center.

    According to the authors the terraforming of Mars might be possible using “early to mid 21st century technologies” that are not discovered yet. They conclude that “… the tasks associated with full terraforming become more daunting and the technologies required more speculative.”

    It is not clear from their article whether their proposals would actually achieve the desired results on Mars. Nor is there any evidence in the article that their proposals might apply to other celestial bodies.

    The website for Pioneer Astronautics describes itself as “A hands-on research and development company dedicated to inventing and proving new technologies to advance humanity's reach into space and to improve life on Earth.” I think it’s reassuring that such efforts are actually being made. Seems like it’s the kind of “out of the box” thinking that can bring great leaps of progress.
  12. you use the Genesis Device, duh!
  13. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    :bugeye: That's...proposterous at best. Consider that we've yet to get a biosphere project to work, find it extraordinarily expensive to put a few hundred kg on Mars and with all the industrial resources here on Earth still can't deal with habitat destruction, desertification, soil acidification!

    In the article the authors talk a lot about using mirrors to melt the south pole and harvesting asteroids but they've left something hugely important out: a stable ecology. It's not enough to just dump a few plants and animals and expect to have a verdant landscape a few years later. If it was that easy we wouldn't have the Gobe, the Atacama, the Sahara etc.
  14. Bobbywhy

    Bobbywhy 1,864
    Gold Member

    Oh, Ryan_m_b, So sorry you missed my subtle attempt to ridicule the idea of terraforming Mars while feigning politeness! The idea is totally preposterous, without a doubt.
  15. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Woops..... :redface: well at least we're on the same page.
  16. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    My usual response when someone starts talking about terraforming as though it was of imminent utility goes something along the lines of "once I see a self-sufficient non-fossil fuel megacity built in the Saharan rainforest followed by one in the Mariana Trench then I'll talk to you about the baby steps that have been made towards terraforming." But even beyond that I'd just like to see a sustainable, closed-system ecosystem built in a large greenhouse.
  17. Bobbywhy

    Bobbywhy 1,864
    Gold Member

    Even that closed glassed-in enviromental system outside Pheonix couldn't survive because of pollution and contamination. We have a constant struggle here on PF ensure members and visitors don't get convinced that science fiction is real.
  18. Mate... i took a few rounds to the internet and all that i find out about the genessis device is that is a big BIIIIIIIIG very BIIIIG... well is a bomb that destroys an entire planetary civilization... whatthaheck does that have to do with terraforming?? And besides if it is about destruction, wouldn't they may call it the genocide device??? as the genessis is beggining?

    And about the idea of terraforming Mars being preposterous, well at this year, 2012, might be...
    but you'll never know what's gonna happen, in the next 15 years? or more? but not too far in the future as the speed of technology evolution is increasing every day... Read the newspaper man! or watch the news at TV! or discovery science...:approve:
  19. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    I believe the genesis device is a star trek reference, it was a joke.
    I often hear that the rate of technological development is increasing but apart from a few examples from some fields I don't know where people think this is happening. In the vast majority of fields progress is incremental and steady.

    Regardless this site exists to discuss established science. Not to play science fiction.
  20. I don't think he doubts what we can accomplish in the future, just that we clearly don't have the ability to do it right now, with "early to middle 21st century technologies" when we're struggling to control our own atmosphere.
  21. I think people confuse Moore's Law for the actual rate of technological progress achieved by the exponentially growing power of computers.
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