Serial entrepreneur and part-time meme enthusiast Elon Musk has once again whipped the internet commentariat into a frenzy, this time with a simple, two-word proposition on Twitter: “Nuke Mars!”
The idea isn’t necessarily new, Musk has discussed using thermonuclear weapons to ‘nuke’ the Red Planet’s poles to assist in terraforming the planet for future human colonization for years, but never one to miss an opportunity to stir the pot, Musk took to Twitter on Friday to gauge support.
Predictably, many answered Musk’s call to arms with memes and good-natured mockery. “Well that escalated quickly. But I support your decision Lord Elon. Nuke it,” one commenter quipped.
The idea behind ‘nuking Mars’ is to release trapped CO2 from various sites on the planet, creating a greenhouse effect on the planet by trapping liquid water on the surface before it could either freeze or evaporate. Sounds straightforward, if a little fiendish, but there’s just one problem, as NASA pointed out in a study into terraforming the fourth planet from the Sun.
“Our results suggest that there is not enough CO2 remaining on Mars to provide significant greenhouse warming were the gas to be put into the atmosphere,”said Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado, who led the study.
“In addition, most of the CO2 gas is not accessible and could not be readily mobilized. As a result, terraforming Mars is not possible using present-day technology.”
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Nuking the ice caps would only double Mars’ atmospheric pressure to 1.2 percent of the pressure on Earth. Even if we could somehow extract all of the CO2 trapped in the rocks and soil on Mars it would only bring the atmospheric pressure to 6.9 percent of the Earth’s.
So, while the idea is defunct, it doesn’t mean the wily, borderline bond-villain-esque Musk can’t make a quick buck with some good old-fashioned Mars-bait.