Scientists say that frozen smoke could make Mars worth living
This image, taken on 2 December 2016 by NASA's Curiosity SUV, depicts a rocky bottom on the lower flank of Mount Sharp, a mountain on Mars.
While no life was discovered on Mars, people have long considered the possibility of one day living on the Red Planet. The problem with this idea is that Mars is exposed to extreme conditions that would make human survival impossible.
Two of the most extreme conditions are very low temperatures and high solar radiation. Both are currently making Mars uninhabitable for humans, plants and other life forms.
However, it continues to be discussed about sending people to Mars, and some even suggest populating the planet from humans in the future.
The US Space Agency NASA plans to send people to Mars someday. The goal of NASA is to bring people back to the moon in 2024. The agency then plans to carry out several lunar missions (1
9459004) to prepare for the dispatch of astronauts to Mars by 2030 (19659005). This image from December 2, 2016 "src =" https://gdb.voanews.com/B8419933-CA58-48BB-9A0B-2F07A25898C6_w250_r1_s.jpg "/>
A new study proposes a plan that would allow people not only to visit Mars, but to live there as well. The study was attended by researchers from Harvard University, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
The study published in Nature Astronomy explains how a material called airgel life can protect things on Mars. NASA has described airgel as "the lightest known solid material". Most airgel is made from silica, a substance contained in glass. Because of its weight and its cloud-like appearance, it is sometimes referred to as "frozen smoke".
Airgel, made with 99 percent air, is extremely light. The material also transmits light while blocking harmful ultraviolet light radiation. Airgel was also used by NASA as an effective isolator to prevent the freezing of Mars vehicles.
The researchers suggest shields with a two- to three-centimeter distance airgel layer in various areas above the Martian surface.
The experiments used an airgel layer and lights to simulate Mars sunlight . The researchers reported that the temperature on the simulated Mars surface was increased to 65 degrees Celsius. This temperature would be enough to melt ice on Mars.
The study suggests that an airgel layer in areas above Mars would bring enough light to the surface to facilitate photosynthesis. This is the process by which plants use solar energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into food.
If successful, this process could give humans the opportunity to grow food on Mars. This would help reduce the need for supplies requiring expensive equipment and fuel. The airgel could also protect humans from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Laura Kerber is a researcher at NASA's JPL. She helped lead the experiments. She said in a statement that Mars after Earth is "the most liveable planet in our solar system". She added, "But it remains a hostile world for many kinds of lives." The airgel could create "small islands of habitability" for humans and other living things, said Kerber.
Robin Wordsworth is Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering at Harvard University. He said the airgel could be a relatively simple solution to make Mars worth living. "Distributed over a sufficiently large area, you would not need any other technology or physics, you would only need one layer of this material on the surface, and underneath you would have permanently liquid water," said Wordsworth.
The material could also be used to build inhabited habitats or completed biospheres on Mars.
The researchers plan to next conduct their experiment outside of the lab in locations with Mars-like climate on Earth. Two possible areas are the Atacama Desert in Chile or the McMurdo dry valleys of the Antarctic. Like Mars, these two places experience very cold temperatures and extremely dry air.
I am Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from NASA, the Nature Astronomy, Harvard University and other online sources. Ashley Thompson the editor.
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