Tagged: terraforming

The Dry Earth: Reversed Terraforming

After terraforming Mars quite a few times, I’ve now done the reverse thing: martifying Earth. What would our planet look like if all the water suddenly disappeared? Like a Pale Yellow Dot, a kind of cross-over between the Moon and Mars. Warming-up No, this is not a warning about the effects of global warming. Those are worrying enough, but in the short term they mainly mean that we have to deal with more instead of less water. Speculation On the other hand: sometimes planets lose a lot of water in the course of their existence. Mars, for example, once had...

The planets Earth and Mars represented by two beach balls in the sand, on the right scale ratio to each other.

Two planets on the beach

Among the general public, there’s remarkably little awareness of the solar system, our immediate environment, our neighbourhood. Many people simply don’t know the difference between the solar system, the galaxy and the universe. Even Dutch national quality newspaper the Volkskrant once wrote that Jupiter is the largest planet in the universe (I’ll never forgive them). Naming the eight planets in the right order is a basic skill that few people posses. Knowledge about the size and mutual distances of these celestial bodies is also very limited. Beach balls For some reason, many people think that Mars is bigger than the...

Atmospheric nocturnal picture of a terraformed Moon, low above the horizon, that shines its green-yellow light on a slightly undulating water surface with a sailboat on it

Getting Used to a Terraformed Moon

The last few weeks, I have once again been busy with an old hobby of mine: terraforming. A word that the spelling checker does not even know, but in science-fiction one can read it quite often: it’s about making other planets more friendly for lifeforms from Earth by adjusting the temperature and the atmosphere. Mars and Venus The terraforming of Mars is actually not that complicated. Simply pumping CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere will start a runaway greenhouse effect that turns up the heat and thickens the atmosphere. On our homeworld we are already practicing, unintentionally. What...

A room with world map Mars 2.0, showing the planet as it may look after terraforming, as decoration on the wall, while Mars rover Sojourner is driving around between the furniture

Mars 2.0 – Return to the Red, Green and Blue Planet

Liquid water has just been found on Mars. The movie The Martian (the perfect blend of Castaway and Apollo 13, with a touch of Saturday Night Fever) is in cinemas right now. And NASA has announced detailed plans to send people to Mars in twenty years. A good moment for me to take a look at the planet again as well. Mars Society Netherlands Mars and I have a long history together. In 1999 I founded, together with Arno Wielders (currently involved in Mars One) the Dutch chapter of the Mars Society in a café in Leiden. In the first...

NASA's indestructible Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, still going strong after two hundred years, driving around on the terraformed former Red Planet

Opportunity’s Bicentennial

More than eleven years ago, on January 25, 2004, Opportunity, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, landed in Meridiani Planum. An identical rover, Spirit, landed three weeks earlier, on the other side of Mars. Both vehicles were expected to remain active for 90 Martian days, more or less equal to three months on Earth. The Martian climate would claim its toll, or so the mission planners feared. Although on Mars the sun shines more than six hundred days a year, the dust storms and large daily temperature differences would surely leave their mark. Indestructible Oppy But the rovers appeared to be more...

Orbital image of a terraformed Mars with the Northern ocean and the North Pole, Valles Marineris, Kasei Vallis, Arabia Terra and the Tharsis highlands, against a background of stars

Modified Mars Revisited

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone who asked my permission to use Modified Mars as a setting for a novel. Modified Mars is a project that I conceived eight years ago, and it’s about terraforming the world currently known as the Red Planet. Another Earth A brief explanation for those who rarely or never read science fiction: terraforming (literally earth formation) is the alteration of a planet in such a way that Earth organisms, including humans, can thrive there. Terraformers are especially interested in Mars for several reasons: the planet is not too big, not too...

Hebes Chasma, in the early stages of terraforming. rendered in Terragen, with NASA's indestructible rover Opportunity

Terraforming for Beginners

Terragen is software for generating landscapes. Landscapes on Earth but just as easily on other worlds, as is shown for example by Kees Veenenbos. Years ago I loaded some elevation data from NASA’s Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter into Terragen and I did some experimenting. There is a new version of the program now, which was a good reason to take those old terrain data off the shelf again. Rocks and grass There is much more possible with Terragen, these days. In the old days only aerial views could be made somewhat realistic but nowadays you can add rocks, grass clumps,...