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Changing Mars

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Aug. 25th, 2007 | 04:58 pm
posted by: beachofdreams in exobio

Biology and the Planetary Engineering of Mars 

"From the perspective of biology, planetary engineering is the ability to alter the environment of a planet so that terrestrial organisms can survive and grow (McKay, 1982). The feasibility of altering planetary environments is clearly demonstrated by mankind's activities on the Earth (Levine, 1991; Fogg, 1995a) and it is increasingly apparent that in the near term future mankind will gain the technological capability to engineer the climate of Mars. Current thought experiments/proposals for the planetary engineering of Mars differ in their methodology, technical requirements, practicality, goals and environmental impact (reviewed and discussed by Fogg, 1995b).

The planetary engineering of Mars may be divided into two distinct mechanistic steps, ecopoiesis followed by terraforming. Ecopoiesis, a term derived by Haynes (1990) which, when applied to Mars, can be viewed as the creation of a self-regulating anaerobic biosphere. On the other hand, terraforming refers to the creation of a human habitable climate (discussed in Fogg 1995b). Whether the creation of such biospheres are possible is not known (Fogg, 1989; Pollack and Sagan, 1993; Fogg, 1995b). However, the majority of these planetary engineering models invoke the use of biological organisms, both during alteration of the planetary environment and in the regulation of the resulting biosphere. This article will briefly review the implications of the current Martian environment and assets for biology and then discuss the relationship between biology and planetary engineering."

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