Terraforming literally means “Earth-shaping” and it is the process of deliberately shaping another world to make it suitable for human living. This will likely involve changing this world’s atmosphere, ecology, temperature, and topography, among many other things.
So, what would be involved in the ‘easy’ task of changing the environment of an entire planet? Let’s use Mars as an example.
Recently, NASA stated that, thanks to powerful solar winds and missing CO2, terraforming Mars will be more difficult that we anticipated. But they noted that there's still hope for the Red Planet.
To sum, Martyn Fogg talked about five critical changes Mars must undergo in his text “Terraforming: Engineering Planetary Environments.” They are as follows:
- The surface temperature must be raised.
- The atmospheric pressure must be increased.
- The chemical composition of the atmosphere must be changed.
- The surface must be made wet (preferably with water)
- The surface flux of UV radiation must be reduced (exposure to a high level of UV radiation is EXTREMELY detrimental to humans)
It may be a long, long ways off...but it could be done; however, only if we form a global collaboration and truly invest in this effort. Assuming it’s possible to terraform a planet to support humans from Earth (non-genetically modified humans, that is), how cool would it be to step off of that spaceship and take a breath of fresh alien air?