By John Syed
“A research team has devised a plan to make a portion of Mars more Earth-like by slamming an asteroid into it.
The Mars Terraformer Transfer (MATT) concept would create a persistent lake on the Red Planet’s surface in 2036, potentially accelerating Mars exploration, settlement and commercial development, the team said.” (source)
While I agree with the idea of slamming an astroid into Mars, I have been thinking of a different approach. Instead of an astroid whose heat generating impact could melt permafrost trapped under Mars’ surface, thus releasing water vapor into Mars’ atmosphere and creating a potentially life sustaining pool of water; I think we should consider slamming a comet into Mars.
I’d argue this initial experiment would create a less violent chain of events and the water from the comet’s melted ice could create a more palatable source of water.
Granted the comet would need to be large enough to survive the heat upon entering Mars’ atmosphere, but if successful it could be a source of water for future colonies.
While most of the comets we know of reside in the in the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud, there are comets in the Astroid Belt just outside of Mars’ and inside Jupiter’s orbit.
Comets are lighter and therefore would be easier, relatively speaking, to steer towards Mars. Also, there is further intrigue with comets as they also contain organic material that could seed Mars with the necessary compounds to one day become life.
The downside is that this newly create life could be hostile to humans. I’m not talking about blaster toting humanoid aliens, but more like simple organisms that could create a new form of disease in our young Martian colony.
Maybe colonizing Mars isn’t the best idea, maybe Mars should simply be our research lab to perfect our technology to terraform celestial bodies. Once we better understand the ramifications of these experiments, we should turn our attention to one of Jupiter’s or Saturn’s moons.