Silica aerogel could warm the Martian surface similar to the way greenhouse gasses keep Earth warm
Billions of years ago, Earth’s atmosphere was much different than it is today. Whereas our current atmosphere is a delicate balance of nitrogen gas, oxygen and trace gases, the primordial atmosphere was the result of volcanic outgassing – composed primarily of carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, and other harsh chemicals. In this respect, our planet’s ancient atmosphere has something in common with Mars’ current atmosphere.
For humanity to have any hope of long-term colonization on Mars, we’ll have to develop power systems capable of meeting our off-world energy needs. As such, NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have been hard at work on Kilopower, a compact nuclear energy reactor that could operate on the Red Planet and beyond.
Given that there are ambitious plans to colonise Mars in the near future, it is surprising how much we still have to learn about what it would be like to actually live on the planet. Take the weather, for instance. We know there are wild fluctuations in Mars’s climate – and that it is very windy and at times cloudy (though too cold and dry for rainfall). But does it snow? Might settlers on Mars be able to see the red planet turn white? A new study surprisingly suggests so.