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Watch: Elon Musk Says We Could Make Mars Habitable With Thermonuclear Bombs

On Wednesday night, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and announced that the speediest way to terraform Mars and allow humans to live outside of an airlock dome would be to nuke it.

“The fast way is to drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles,” Musk told Colbert, prompting the host to call him a super villain. But is the idea that crazy?

The basis of the bomb plot is that the nukes would melt the frozen CO2 on the Red Planet’s poles, releasing it as gas into the atmosphere. This would help to thicken up the Red Planet’s thin atmosphere, which could be enough to heat the planet and allow water to exist in a liquid form.

Essentially, the bombs would kick-start something similar to the global warming that’s happening here on Earth, and hopefully trigger a cascade effect – so the more ice that melts, the more CO2 that’s released, which warms the planet and melts more ice, and so on.

However, there are some obvious downsides to this plot. Not least of all the fact that those bombs would also release a whole lot of radiation that may or may not contaminate the Red Planet. 

The bigger problem is the fact that they simply wouldn’t make that much of a difference, Samantha Masunaga reports for The LA Times.

“It seems possible to make it Earthlike, but there’s a lot of barriers to overcome,” said Brian Toon from the University of Colorado, Boulder. “Blowing up bombs is not a good one.”

Toon also explained that the amount of CO2 already present in Mars’s atmosphere is already incredibly high, and while adding to it may make the planet plant-friendly, the atmosphere wouldn’t be suitable for animals anyway.

NASA didn’t even dignify the suggestion with a proper answer, simply stating: “We are also committed to promoting exploration of the Solar System in a way that protects explored environments as they exist in their natural state.”

But in good news, Musk also used the interview to announce that SpaceX would be sending humans into space in the next two or three years, and there’s a good change they’ll be riding there in this beauty. Let’s file that one under transportation goals.

You can watch the first part of Musk’s interview with Colbert here:

Source www.sciencealert.com


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  1. Give ’em enough attention and he’ll show how much of a nut he really is. Pleeese folks…. He’s a visionary with money$$, not a genius. Cartoonists and food purveyors are visionaries too!

  2. Right now Mars is perhaps the most pristine ‘natural park’ imaginable – untouched by all but the slightest human interaction (unmanned probes) and existing as potentially the most culturally and scientifically important resource imaginable in the entire history of human exploration. I literally cringe whenever I read of its ‘colonization’. The last major discovery on earth was spared this fate when all of Antarctica was deemed ‘protected’ by the 1961 Antarctic Treaty System. Surely the entire Martian planetary system deserves equal respect and international legal protection.

  3. Why nuke Mars? Seems like Elon Musk needs better ways to waste his fortune. I can give him names of charitable organizations for children, the sick and the elderly!
    By the way, Mars does have life-form species living in underground cities.

  4. as mars likely already has to higher concentration of radiation ,,,,,,, this in no way a option …… however if we got ways of warming the poles over time ….. it would have to make mars more inhabitable !!! ……. nuclear powered heat generators may be ,,,,, or darkening sufice of the co2 snow there !!! ,,,, might work theoretically !! ……. other possibility’s could be create an artificial moon ( my favored ) !!!! ,,,, of dig into the surface for habitational spaces !!!

  5. I’d buy a ticket to Mars I think if I had the money. But what would be the currency on Mars cuz u ain’t gonna help get the planet habitable for fuck all and who would be the ruler of mars Elon musk lool

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