Over the past few years, there has been increasing talk of the bold possibility of colonizing Mars. A recent NASA study concluded that a plan to transform the atmosphere of Mars so that humans could inhabit the planet would not work.
However, scientists at Harvard University have a new plan that they believe is a solution that might even work. This new idea is intended to make small areas of Mars habitable rather than completely transforming the entire atmosphere of the planet.
Silica Airgel is the crucial material to implement this new idea.
This is one of the materials being explored so that this new ideology can be applied. Silica Airgel is an extremely effective material for thermal insulation, and could make plant growth possible on Mars.
Harvard scientists' idea is to use Silica Airgel 'blankets' to permanently heat small areas of Mars to melt ice and frozen CO2.
Thanks to the properties of Silica Airgel, solar radiation can be constantly used to heat and maintain a stable temperature below its thin layer.
Of course, this whole project has an extremely technical explanation and involves complex processes, but it can be understood quite simply.
Thanks to its physical properties, Silica Airgel can create a kind of 'greenhouse effect' by letting in sunlight but blocking out UV radiation as well as heat output.
Thus, this new idea proposes the use of thin layers of Silica Airgel to heat certain areas of the surface of Mars, making possible the growth of certain plants.
If this idea is to be successfully implemented over several years, it may be possible to reconsider a possible modeling of the atmosphere of Mars.
What is airgel?
Airgel is a porous solid material created by removing the liquid part of a gel that is replaced by a gas. The end result of this process is a solid block with an extremely low (very light) density. In addition to being extremely lightweight, it is a material that exhibits excellent efficiency with regard to its thermal insulation capabilities.
Although it can be created from various materials, silica is the most widely used and studied material. In addition to its unique characteristics, ideal for the production of airgel, it is also one of the most abundant materials in the earth's crust.
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