Mars is already in the focus of scientific explorations with serious plans to sending astronauts there. But before any human leg steps on the surface of Red Planet, scientists have to figure out how to protect them from dangerous cosmic rays. A bunch of engineers already working on concepts for suitable habitations during astronauts presence on the planet and some of them look really promising such as Ice Dome concept. However, some scientists want to go further more and develop ideas on how to terraform Mars. Such one idea was presented at the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop by Dr. Jim Green, NASA’s Planetary Science Division Director. Dr. Greem with his colleagues proposes to create an artificial magnetic shield to protect Mars’ atmosphere.

Artist’s rendering of a solar storm hitting Mars and stripping ions from the planet’s upper atmosphere. Credits: NASA/GSFC

Future Mars Environment for Science and Exploration

The most intriguing part of community worship event known as Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop was the part when scientists presented their ideas on future Mars environment for science and exploration. As is already known, Mars once had a magnetic field which suddenly disappeared and during next 500 million years the planet cools down and become uninhabitable due to constant hits of cosmic rays. To terraform Mars isn’t peace of cake work, but Dr. Green come out with the concept that is based on solid science.

The research team proposes creating the magnetic shield and launching it to a stable orbit between Mars and the sun. Since the solar wind is responsible for depleting Mars’ atmosphere, that’s the only protection needed to enrich the planet again. The shield structure, positioned at the Mars L1 Lagrange Point, would consist of a large dipole — a closed electric circuit powerful enough to generate an artificial magnetic field.

The proposed method for creating an artificial magnetic dipole at Mars’ L1 Lagrange Point. Credit: NASA/J.Green

In theory, such a field could protect Mars from radiation and help to slowly restore its atmosphere, therefore to terraform. The simulations showed that shield could restore about half of Mars’ atmosphere and 1/7th of Mars’ oceans, wich would be enough for human exploration and colonization. Dr.  Green and his team will further calculate how long it will take for an artificial magnetic field to deliver this terraforming approach.

This idea sounds a little bit sci – fi, even fanciful but in theory, science itself allows it. We have no doubts that scientists in future will make this feasible.