The terraforming of Mars looks more feasible?

The terraforrming of Mars is starting to look a lot more feasible. Reuters reports that huge water ice deposits have been discovered on Mar’s south pole. The deposits are up to 3.7km thick, which would be enough to blanket the planet (assuming it were completely flat) in 11m of water. We’ve long thought that Mars was a rather dry planet, but it’s looking possible that the water is still there, just trapped in an inaccessible state at the poles (a la Percival Lowell?).

So the terraforming of Mars does look feasible. The water is there. All we’d need is to generate enough heat to start melting that water. The solution is simple enough: runaway greenhouse effect. Give Mars a thick atmosphere and it will heat up to the point that water ice can melt. And how to do this? Just use an infinitely replicating machine to break down surface rocks into gases using sunlight as energy. That sounds a lot more difficult than it actually is. On Earth, the infinitely replicating machines that created our oxygen-rich atmosphere go by a more common name: life. It shouldn’t be too hard to take a hardy extremophile that lives on Earth and genetically modify not only to survive on Mars but to create gases as a byproduct of its life processes. And once you have that going, you just sit down and wait, and watch the life spread across the surface of the planet, terraforming it with a minimum amount of effort on your part.

3 Responses to “The terraforming of Mars looks more feasible?”

  1. Darmok Says:

    Some would contend that a machine that capable of self-replication qualifies it for life.

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    Indeed, it would meet all of the criteria for life. I was just saying we should take the easier path, taking existing life and modifying it for our purposes, rather than trying to create artificial life from scratch.

  3. Darmok Says:

    You’re right; I just like being a pain sometimes.

    So here’s the follow-up question: If we did have the technology/ability to terraform Mars, should we do so?