Why Should We Care About Mars?

You know how last time I said I was gonna go study for finals, well, yeah, that got boring so instead I’m gonna talk to you about Mars: The Big Red Planet. So what’s the big deal why should we care? Who cares what happens on some planet drifting around millions of miles from our own? Because in that red rock in the sky lies a harsh warning and limitless potential.

How does Mars feel about being called, "big" and "red"
How does Mars feel about being called, “big” and “red”

Now the big reason most people care about Mars is because of the possibility of Martian life. I hate to do this, but I’m going to have to squash your hopes and dreams before they get out of hand. I can report with 100% certainty that there aren’t little green men scurrying around the Martian surface, we would have noticed by now. Even the possibility of microscopic life is slim to none. You’ll find it’s very hard to sustain life when temperatures average -81 degrees, your atmosphere is almost entirely CO2 and you are constantly bombarded by cosmic radiation. Now there is the possibility, and in fact a likelihood, that life existed on Mars at one point, but any life has likely been extinct for millennia. Speaking of which, this brings us to my first point.

The evidence suggests that Mars at one point in its history had lakes, like good old-fashioned water filled lakes. This also adds credence to the idea that Mars may have support at the very least, some form of microbial life. Add to that the fact that Mars sits right on the edge of the “Habitable Zone” (depending on what calculations you believe), a ring around the sun that receives the right amount of solar radiation to possibly support life. So for all we know, Mars could have been just like Earth, filled with oceans and rivers, possibly even vegetation! But what does it look like now, a big desert devoid of life. To me it serves as a reminder of just how perilous a life we live. all it takes is the right mix of events and Earth could end up just like Mars: dead. I hate to sound preachy, but seriously, we got a pretty good thing going on Earth, let’s not screw it up. But there are more reasons you should care about Mars than just as a stark reminder of the fragility of planetary life. Hold on to your hats, we’re about to go Sci-Fi!

Do you remember that big dub step machine from Man of Steel? It’s ok if you don’t, it’s a mostly irrelevant reference anyways. But what they were trying to do in the movie was change Earth’s atmosphere and junk into one that was habitable for the stupid Kryptonians. Why am I telling you this? BECAUSE WE SHOULD TOTALLY DO THAT TO MARS. Now let me clarify, the whole weird gravity thing that was really just an excuse to give Skrillex a composition credit is dumb, real life terraforming is way easier, plus Mars is already the most Earth-like planet that we know of, so there isn’t even that much to do.

No witty comment, just breath in the awesomeness
No witty comment, just breath in the awesomeness

The great part about Mars is that its geology is awesome. It has lots of minerals, some of the same ones that are in your garden, and it’s plentiful in useful metals, most notably Iron-Oxide (the stuff that makes it look red). The only thing the red planet is missing is water and a good atmosphere. Now Mars’ atmosphere has three problems: 1) it is very thing, 2) it is almost entirely carbon dioxide, and 3) Mars lacks a magnetosphere to protect it from all that nasty solar wind. So how do you solve this? Well we still need to do some work to figure out the magnetosphere thing, but the atmosphere we can solve. All we need to do is dump loads and loads of  carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. That will warm the whole place up, melt some of the water that is believed to exist at the polar ice caps getting some nice weather going, and help block some of the bad solar radiation like ultraviolet rays. Then you take some plants to Mars, and get them to turn some of that CO2 into O2 and bam! You have a life sustaining planet right next door to good old Earth. Doesn’t that sound awesome! Then there really will be life on Mars, it’ll just be human life! So yes, you should totally care about Mars, because you could be living there some day, you never know.