Localizing Mars with ultralight materials

Mars colonization is a story often mentioned by scientists. Currently, scientists often focus on preparing to adapt to the harsh conditions on Mars.

One of the major problems that needs to be addressed is that the temperatures are too low on the planet, making it impossible for future astronauts to use liquid water.

Picture 1 of Localizing Mars with ultralight materials
Aerogel silica has a porosity of 97% and is a material widely used in aerospace equipment.

Previously, researchers had proposed vaporizing polar ice caps to raise the planet's temperature. However, further studies show that that does not bring the expected effect. Scientists at Harvard University (USA) have discovered a method of geochemistry of Mars : It is using aerogel silica (a super light and porous material).

'This method is much more accessible than Mars' global climate change test. This is an idea that we can systematically develop and test with existing materials and technologies, '' said Robin Wordsworth of Harvard University.

The polar icecaps on Mars are a mixture of frozen ice and carbon dioxide, in which carbon dioxide maintains heat and allows sunlight to pass through. That means that in the summer, air pockets appear to have higher temperatures than the ice caps. Scientists are looking to use this effect to create habitable areas on Mars. To do that, they have to find the material with the lowest thermal conductivity, while also passing light the most.

Aerogel silica is 97% porous and is a material that is heavily used in aerospace equipment, such as NASA's autonomous vehicles.

In models and experiments, the team explained, how a thin layer of silica aerogen can raise Mars' average temperature, to reach temperatures similar to those on Earth. As it turned out, there was no need for any additional technology but just spread the material over a large surface. Experiments bring promising results, but there are still challenges that scientists face. These are technical issues, related to the change of the planetary environment.

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