Strange Science: What Should We Terraform First?

Artist's rendering of a potential terraformed Mars in stagesOur story this Monday hypothesized the possibility of terraforming the moon, and how it might go awry. And there’s plenty of talk these days about terraforming Mars. But in this article, one author suggests that instead of looking toward Mars as a place to terraform, we should consider other options, including Earth’s own moon.

The main problems presented with terraforming Mars involve issues of the length of time it would take, the distance from Earth, and the difficulties that would be encountered without sufficient genetic diversity. The moon, on the other hand, could have a habitable area within 15 years, and is much closer to Earth–perhaps even close enough to permit travel between Earth and the moon, or near enough that people could flee Earth in the case of a catastrophic event.

Another possibility this article presents is Venus, which has gravity closer to Earth-norm. The terraforming process would be similar to that of Mars, though Venus would have to be terraformed before people could move there, while terraforming on Mars could take place with some inhabitants already there.

Finally, the author suggests that perhaps the future of life off Earth could take the form of free-space colonies–that is, colonies on man-made structures in space, rather than on an existing planet or moon.

Though it may take some time before the details of a plan to move people from Earth are complete, it seems that many folks are thinking in that direction. It may not happen in our lifetimes, but there may someday be people on the moon, Mars, Venus, or elsewhere in our galaxy!

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