Science and technology enthusiasts over at Futurism have worked out a solid plan outlining what's needed for us to make Mars just as inhabitable as Earth.
Presented as a handy infographic, Terraforming Mars: A Practical Guide lists the four stages of preparing Mars for sustaining a human population, as well as a few problems we'd almost certainly face along the way.
The process of modifying a whole planet to make it viable for human inhabitants is called terraforming, and it's a natural staple of space-faring science fiction stories. However, there's plenty of actual science and engineering that backs up the concept.
The award-winning Mars trilogy of novels by Kim Stanley Robinson chronicles the potential colonisation and terraforming of the Red Planet in incredible detail, but if you want to get up to speed in fewer than the 1,600+ pages comprising the three books, keep on scrolling.
Step one: Atmosphere
Phase One plots strategies to thicken Mars's near non-existent atmosphere. Earth's atmosphere not only gives us the air we breathe, but its greenhouse gases keep our planet warm, while the ozone layer protects life from frying to a crisp under solar radiation.
Interestingly enough the method requires using military weaponry to create life, instead of destroying it.
Step two: Water
Phase Two outlines a way to create accessible water across the planet. The plan uses large mirrors to redirect sunlight in order to melt frozen glaciers on the planet. Phase Two also leverages the atmosphere created in Phase One, to manufacture a rain cycle.
Step three: Soil
Phase Three introduces microbial life to the Red Planet in order to fertilise it. Genetically-engineered bacteria and plant life would create a rich soil on Mars, and release oxgyen into the atmosphere. Once the oxygen levels are sufficient, more complex Earth-like flora would be introduced.
Step four: People
Phase Four describes how to finally migrate humans to the planet. In preparation, robots would be sent first -to help establish human infrastructure. 3D printers would be used to build homes, and other necessary materials for human life.
The infographic also lists the problems standing in the way of executing this plan effectively. They include Mars's lack of magnetosphere, which makes it hard for an atmosphere to cling to the planet, as well as low gravitational acceleration which would adversely affect human health.
But just think, how cool would it be if we could live on Mars? This four-stage plan makes it look almost easy - really gets the imagination revving!
Make sure to visit Futurism for the original infographic in full, including the references used.