This paper takes part in the series essay competition of “great science” of Recordunkown.
Hundreds of years ago, with the emergence of the steam engine, mankind officially declared that it had entered the industrial age and opened the road of scientific and technological development. The power of science and technology has enabled human beings to achieve leaps and bounds. It has not only enabled us to have more knowledge of the world’s material and life, but also enabled human beings to realize their dream of flying to the sky, go out of the earth and begin to explore the universe.
Only when we really walk out of the earth can we know that we are actually frogs in the well. The vastness and mystery of the universe are beyond our imagination. Although the rapid development of science and technology brings infinite benefits to human civilization, it also brings huge side effects to the earth, that is, the continuous deterioration of the ecological environment.
The earth is the home of human ecology for millions of years, and the beautiful ecological environment is the basis for human survival on the earth. If the ecological environment of the Earth continues to deteriorate, sooner or later it will collapse completely, and at that time the earth will no longer be suitable for human survival. If human civilization wants to continue, it needs to find a second livable planet.
Therefore, after going out of the earth, in addition to actively exploring the possible existence of alien civilization, the more important thing is to find a second earth suitable for human survival. However, due to the limitation of scientific and technological strength, we can not go out of the solar system to explore, so the goal of exploring the second earth can only be placed in the solar system. So is there a second earth in the solar system suitable for human survival? Of course not.
The only planet in the solar system that is naturally suitable for human survival is the earth. Although the other two planets are in the same habitable zone with the earth, there is a huge difference in the environment. Venus is a purgatory planet, with a surface temperature of more than 460 degrees Celsius, frequent acid rain and violent earthquake activities. In such an ecological environment, human beings can only live for 10 seconds.
Although the environment of Mars is much worse than that of the earth, compared with Venus, it is already heaven. Since there is no natural second planet suitable for human survival in the solar system, what should we do in the future? We need to know that with the deterioration of the earth’s ecology and the development of human science and technology, we may not have to wait for the day when we become an interstellar civilization to emigrate to the planet.
At this time, scientists came up with a plan to transform Mars, making it a planet suitable for human survival. However, it is not easy to transform the ecological environment of a planet. In the past half century, scientists have launched dozens of probes to Mars, including orbiters and landers.
Through the exploration of the probe, scientists have a lot of knowledge about Mars. At present, we have found water resources on Mars, which is just solid. Methane and other organic matter have also been found on Mars, and a large number of ancient river beds have also been found on the surface of Mars, indicating that Mars may have been a beautiful ecological planet long ago, with a large amount of liquid water.
Through these explorations, scientists believe that Mars has a very good ecological foundation. Although it is very desolate now, there is still hope to make it a livable planet through certain transformation. So how do we transform Mars? Human survival is very strict for the environment, not only to have a suitable temperature, a lot of liquid water, but also to be able to absorb and resist cosmic radiation.
All of the above conditions are indispensable, and to achieve these, we need to raise the temperature of Mars first. Only when the temperature of Mars surface rises, can the water ice above melt. What’s more, if the plants want to grow on Mars, they can’t do without water resources and suitable temperature. However, it is not easy to heat Mars. Scientists have thought of many ways, but they are not suitable.
Later, Harvard scientist Wordsworth put forward a method of placing a silica aerogel on the surface of Mars, which does not need to be very thick, and can effectively improve the surface temperature of Mars in a short time. Silica aerogel is silicon dioxide, which is widely used on the surface of buildings to provide warmth retention function.
The reason why the surface temperature of Mars is low is that it does not have a thick atmosphere to form a greenhouse effect. And it may take a long time to transform the atmosphere to make it thicker. But by silica aerogel, it is much easier, at least with the current technology of mankind.
Scientists believe that only 0.8 to 1.2 inches of aerogel can raise the temperature of Mars, which is enough to melt the water ice on Mars. Moreover, silica aerogels also play an important role in effectively preventing ultraviolet and other harmful radiation from absorbing the universe.
We need to know that human resistance to cosmic radiation is very weak. We live on the earth with a thick atmosphere, which can absorb most of the ultraviolet and various kinds of radiation. Mars has a very thin atmosphere, which can’t block the cosmic radiation. Even if the temperature on the surface of Mars rises to an appropriate level, it is difficult for human beings to survive.
Silica aerogels can effectively solve these two problems. One is to restore the greenhouse effect to Mars, the other is to block the absorption of all kinds of cosmic radiation. These two problems have been solved, and the obstacles of human migration to Mars have also been solved. Scientists have verified the function of this material in the laboratory by simulating the Martian environment. Now scientists are preparing to carry out some large-scale experiments in Chile’s Atacama Desert, because the environment here is close to the Martian surface to some extent.
Once a large number of experiments confirm that silica aerogels play a major role in improving the Martian environment, the next step is to experiment on Mars. Of course, even though scientists have determined the role of silica aerogels for Mars, it is not easy to lay large amounts of this material on the surface of Mars.
Although we only need to lay a very thin layer on the surface of Mars, because of its huge area, the amount needed is also huge. However, the current space transportation capacity of human beings is very weak, which can not meet the transportation of a large amount of material to Mars. Only when our space technology is further developed, and we have more powerful power technology and more powerful space transportation capacity, may we be able to fully start the Mars reconstruction program. We are looking forward to that day.
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