Microbes To Terraform Mars?

Gary King, a microbiologist at Louisiana State University who studies life that survives in extreme environments, suggests that energy, nutrients and water present on Mars could be used in a terraforming project, given the addition of extremophile Earth microorganisms.

According to King, seeding hand-picked, specially cultivated microbial communities in Mars' harsh environment is not only possible, but could serve as our very first step in terraforming the planet: transforming our solar neighbor from a desolate hellscape to a thriving environment that could support increasing complex forms of life, and possibly one day even humans.

King is clear about the difficulties and caveats such a theoretical project would entail. But that doesn't stop him from believing it's possible.

"This could just be my naiveté, I don't think that it's entirely farfetched to imagine us developing something like a microbial farm on Mars," he says, "and not in something like 200 years, but far sooner."

The concept starts small. Microorganisms that munch on Mars's natural resources could not only transform the red planet's soil, but could pump out gasses to bolster the Mars's embarrassingly thin atmosphere to boot. This is not simply theoretical. Such a process has already been proven already in Earth's history, King says. We owe all our planet's atmospheric oxygen to microbe photosynthesis.

The word terraforming was coined by Jack Williamson in a 1941 story Collision Orbit:

He had been the original claimant of Obania, forty years ago; and Drake was the young spatial engineer he employed to terraform the little rock, only two kilometers through...
(Read more about terraforming)

The concept was used earlier by Olaf Stapledon in his 1930 novel Last and First Men:

On the other hand, Mars could not be made habitable without first being stocked with air and water; and such an undertaking seemed impossible. There was nothing for it, then, but to attack Venus...

It was necessary, then, to equip Venus with an appropriate vegetation, which in the course of ages should render the planet's atmosphere hospitable to man.
(Read more about planets made habitable)

However, if you really wanted to look further (and who wouldn't?), you find references to the idea in HG Wells' 1898 novel The War of the Worlds:

Apparently the vegetable kingdom in Mars, instead of having green for a dominant colour, is of a vivid blood-red tint. At any rate, the seeds which the Martians (intentionally or accidentally) brought with them gave rise in all cases to red-coloured growths. Only that known popularly as the red weed, however, gained any footing in competition with terrestrial forms. The red creeper was quite a transitory growth, and few people have seen it growing. For a time, however, the red weed grew with astonishing vigour and luxuriance. It spread up the sides of the pit by the third or fourth day of our imprisonment, and its cactus-like branches formed a carmine fringe to the edges of our triangular window. And afterwards I found it broadcast throughout the country, and especially wherever there was a stream of water.
(Read more about red weed (terraforming plant))

And yes, I anticipate your quibble with the use of terraforming to describe making the Earth habitable for Martians; consider David Gerrold's use of the word "Chtorraform" to describe remaking Earth for Chorrans.

Read more in Popular Mechanics.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/7/2015)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

NASA's Electric Motor Scooter
'...all the [lunar] prospectors took bicycles along as a matter of course'

Extremophile Microbe Loves Space Rocks
'... designed for rooting in the metal make-up of the asteroids for vital elements.' - F.E. Hardart, 1941.

Space Domes Over-rated? Science Fiction Authors Have Answers
'This was to be roofed over, sealed, and an atmosphere provided...' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.

NASA 'Broomstick' Recalls SciFi Ideas
'The appearance was enough like a giant witch's broom to justify the nickname.' - Robert Heinlein, 1942.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Via Virtual Reality, Mother Encounters Deceased Daughter
'But that barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'

Clothes That Do Photosyntheisis
'Clothes are no longer made from dead fibers of fixed color and texture...'

Stratuscent Electronic Nose
'It's picking up diphenyl compounds and tetra hydrocarbons.'

CIMON Companion Robot For Space Station Astronauts
'... in some departments their power is absolute.'

Qbit Robot Bartender Also Makes Coffee
'...he sipped the cognac that the robot bartender handed him.'

Moving Desks Not SciFi After All
'Charged with hope, he zipped from stack to stack...'

Cruise Autonomous Car Drives Aimlessly For An Hour
Convincing video shows progress (and limitations).

Fast Charging A Bus In 20 Seconds
'... in almost every town and village.'

Realistic Translation With The Waverly Labs Ambassador
'The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.'

Biotech Firms Raised $Millions For Anti-Agathics (Longevity Drugs)
'Against Death doth no simple grow.'

Out-Of-Work Blue Collar Robots Need Your Help
'His legs relaxed with a rattle as he cut off all power below his waist... and ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...'

The Dawn Of Orbiting Manufacturing In 2020?
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories.'

Smart Contact Lenses Charges With 3D Printed Antenna
'He realized that it was not quite a clear lens.'

Segway S-Pod Fulfills Dire 1928 SciFi Prophecy
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'

Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time
'Here is the chronoscope... Scansion depends upon a special curved field...'

Airbnb Has AI Psychiatrist Looking At Your Facebook
'It's illegal to hold back information during a psyche test.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.