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Could We Turn Other Planets and Moons Into a Second Earth?

This planet of ours, it ain’t gonna last forever. And though who the heck knows what’s going to happen to the world that far off into the future (or even after November 8th), Life Noggin decided to conduct a little brain exercise about how we could convert a planet like Mars or Venus, or a moon like Europa, into a second Earth.

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It all sounds so easy at first: make the atmosphere thicker by pumping ammonia into Mars (via ice-rich comets, smashed in from the outer solar system); add some plants to make the atmosphere warmer and similar to Earth; melt some polar caps for water—and boom, second Earth.

Of course, it’s not that easy. That’s why Earth is still the best planet. Mars doesn’t have a magnetosphere which means the atmosphere we just built on second Earth would be stripped away from radiation and solar wind. It’s an interesting thought, though. Find out what happens when we try Venus and Europa in the video below.

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DISCUSSION

Terraforming isn’t going to happen, anywhere, ever. The scales are sooooo big, it would be impossible to do. Planets are big. Ours is smallish, and yet also really big in terms of how we fit on it. Try this on for size:

If you took every human that ever lived, from Homo Habilus all the way to the kid who was born six seconds after you started reading this comment, and took their bodies (not as bones, just as bodies) and put them all in one place, like the Grand Canyon, for example, you could not fill the Grand Canyon. That’s just one canyon (granted, a big one, but still just one) in one spot on one of the smaller continents.

Okay, so what’s being talked about in terms of terraforming is making significant changes to the atmosphere and land of entire planets, and to do that on a rapid timescale... lets just say 100 years for grins and giggles. You’d have to get the technology to do this, craft machines to perform it in that 100 year window, launch them to another planet, successfully land them there, set them up, start them and maintain them ... and then repair them with parts or new technology for that century.

So where would all the materials and energy come from to do all this — from our planet? Probably. All the energy to launch the stuff and push it out to this other planet would have to come from somewhere, too., right? Got anyplace else to find it? What about this fancy new planet, I wonder? Oh, well, it would take a lot of prospecting and development of whole industries on that planet to do that, just like it did here, but we’d have to pack up and ship all the stuff we’d need from here to make that whole industry over there, and then to all the same stuff in highly adverse and dangerous conditions on that planet.

All this would be undertaken by the people of a planet that can’t seem to clean up a continent-sized soupy island of plastic garbage in the northern Pacific ocean.

Nobody’s going to terraform anything, ever, my friends. EVER.