Could we terraform Mars?

Many scientists believe that it’s possible to make Mars habitable, but there’s a lot of work to do. First, we need a new atmosphere. That of Mars is about 95 per cent carbon dioxide, and very thin in comparison to Earth’s. We also need liquid water. Mars is currently a desert planet. Since it’s further from the Sun, on average Mars has a temperature measuring about -60 degrees Celsius (-76 degrees Fahrenheit), so we’d definitely need more heat. Finally, Mars would need a magnetic field to hold in that atmosphere, heat and water, as well as protect us from solar radiation.

We could help along some of these issues by creating a greenhouse effect on Mars – it’s how Earth is warmed, as sunlight is reflected off the planet’s surface and is absorbed by gases in the atmosphere. This would require importing or creating those gases on Mars, and there are lots of proposals for how to make that happen… some of which are either not possible with our current technology or are too cost-prohibitive. So the answer to whether we could actually live on Mars one day is, for now, a decided ‘maybe’.

Answered by Shanna Freeman, How It Works contributor.