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To make Mars more habitable, NASA proposes artificial magnetic field.

While Elon Musk works on how we can bring humans to Mars, scientists in NASA are working on ways to help keep them there.

One proposal suggests creating an artificial magnetic field for the red planet, to make it more habitable for human colonists.

ExtremeTech reports that the proposal was made during a NASA talk at the recently concluded Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop. It was said that the artificial magnetic field could help protect colonists from cosmic radiation, as well as bring back some of Mars' ancient oceans.

Scientists believe that Mars once had an Earth-like magnetic field. This could have protected the planet surface, much like the Earth's field protects us, therefore allowing for a greener ecosystem.

Unfortunately, the magnetic field died around 4.2 billion years ago, and overtime, Mars' atmosphere got stripped away by cosmic winds, leaving the planet to be the rusted husk that it is now.

Jim Green Artificial magnetic field

Image: NASA/Jim Green

NASA Planetary Science Division director Jim Green stated that a powerful magnetic bipole placed at Mars' L1 Lagrange Point could deflect solar winds. This will in turn help create a more balanced Martian atmosphere that will overtime become thicker and warmer. The warmer Martian surface could then start melting the frozen water hiding under the surface.

Of course, this won't make Mars comfortably habitable for humans overnight or even in the next hundred years. Even Green and his colleagues find the idea 'fanciful,' but still considers it within the realm of possibility. He also noted that advances in plasma physics could lead to the development of structures that can generate the aforementioned artificial magnetic field.

For the time being, the rest of us can look to SpaceX's continued progress on putting together the ship that will get us to Mars in the first place.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 8, 2017
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