On Wednesday night, SpaceX and Tesla Motors’ chief executive and multi-billion-dollar entrepreneur Elon Musk told Stephen Colbert that he thinks it is a good idea to blast Mars with thermonuclear weapons to make it more habitable “the fast way.”
The disturbing idea came up after the host of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” asked Musk how science could help Mars colonization by making the Red Planet more hospitable to humans.
Musk noted that there are two ways of terraforming Mars. The slow one is to artificially pump greenhouse gases into the planet’s atmosphere and trigger a man-made climate change that would warm the planet up. The fast way is harnessing nuclear power.
“The fast way is to drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles,”
said SpaceX’ CEO without even blinking.
Colbert quickly replied that only a ‘supervillain’ would do that.
After the episode, some scientists said that Musk’s idea is not that good on the long run.
Brian Toon, an atmospheric and oceanic sciences expert who has been looking for ways of making Mars hospitable to humans for more than three decades, explained that terraforming is no longer a Sci-Fi scenario, but blowing up nuclear weapons was not the answer.
University of Washington’s Joshua Bandfield, who is also working with Space Science Institute in Boulder on various space science projects, believes that nuking the Red Planet may not make it warm enough to host human life.
Moreover, Bandfield argued that dropping thermonuclear weapons on the planet’s surface would change its terrain and be extremely detrimental to scientific research.
Scientists said that the safest solution was the slower one – artificially creating a greenhouse gas effect and wait for the Martian atmosphere to warm up even if that may take decades or even hundreds of years.
On the other hand, researchers warned that rising temperatures on the planet should not be made with help from carbon dioxide because there is already plenty of it on the Red Planet. Too much carbon dioxide may be suitable for some plants, but deadly to humans and animals.
NASA declined to express a clear opinion on Elon Musk’s musings. The space agency said after the incident that they were committed to a type of space exploration that would preserve new environments’ “natural state.”
Musk’s SpaceX is genuinely interested in the Red Planet. Earlier this year, its CEO announced that he was interested in funding a project to place a network of internet-delivering satellites on the planet to help researchers there better communicate with Earth.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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