Nuke Mars and then live there?

Hey, I heard somewhere we could terraform Mars by sending a few mega-ton nukes over. The resulting radiation would melt the ice, releasing all sorts of good chemicals, which would create a greenhouse effect, and a sheltering atmosphere for carbon-based life. It could all be ready for homesteading in 100 years.
Anyone heard yay or nay on this?

Let’s go with nay.

To release the suspected ice in the relogith and the caps (plus CO2) would require that the majority of the surface be heated. That’s a lot of surface which means you need a lot of nukes.

Perhaps localized heating of the poles would trigger a big enough release of gas to trigger a critical shift in the heat trapping capacity of the planet. Never thought of that. Hmmmmmm.

I recall reading somewhere that we don’t have nearly enough bombs to have much of an effect on the atmosphere. Even if we did:

  1. There are steps missing. Microbial, and then plant life would need to be introduced before we could move in. You’d want to wait a while for these “lower” life forms to get enough O[sub]2[/sub] into the atmosphere. We’re talking much more than 100 years before the Martian atmosphere is like a chilly night on the porch.
  2. No government or private investor will finance a project that takes this long to get results. Would you want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars just to (maybe) do your great grandchildren a favor?
  3. If the USA was launching nukes into space, how would (for example) Russia really be sure we were avoiding any chance of an “accident”? Would you really feel comfortable if (for another example) China were doing this? It would be enormously difficult to accomplish this without a lot of international friction.

A better way would be to re-direct a few comets Mars’ way. And then to seed some cold tolerant, black (for solar heat absorption) lichen on the surface.

No matter what you do to Mars, I don’t believe it can ever hold a breathable atmosphere. It’s not that massive, and it has no appreciable magnetic field, meaning that most of it’s just going to get swept into space.

Perhaps but if you have the technology to revive a planet, you should be able to top up the atmosphere through comets, asteroids etc.

setting aside the political friction for a moment, the technological challenges, et cetera, wouldn’t it be cool to bomb the shize out of another planet???


Pal we don’t have enough bombs to blow the “shize” out of the moon let alone Mars. Wait for the Stellar Converters.

Well, let’s see here. I’m using both the low-end figure of 6.5 miles blast radius for a 25-megaton thermonuclear airburst and the high-end of 30.4 miles. Which figure you use depends on how much destruction you really want from your bombing of Mars.

Mars has an equatorial radius of 3397 miles.

Squaring the radius, then multiplying it by pi, then four, I get 145,011,003.44 miles as the surface area of Mars. Dividing it by 6.5, I get 22,309,385–the number of 25-megaton nukes needed to scorch every square inch of Mars thoroughly. Dividing it by 30.4, I get 4,770,099 nuclear weapons–the number you need to break every window on the planet.

So I think I’ll wait until we invent the Mister Doctor, 'cause there’s no way we can make upwards of four million nuclear weapons.


Mars Fact Sheet from NASA

Nuclear Bomb Blast Radius Calculator

Like a few million years more. The trouble is that the only way plants are going to have much effect is if we start getting the chemical reations with the rocks that we have seen on Earth, or if they start tieing up huge amounts of carbon as coal. Either process is going to take millions of years to change the oxygen content of the atmosphere.

I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Oooppss. Wrong movie. Maybe not? The terraformers were gonna get nuked…

Just sayin’.

Sure we can, but they’re all hidden in Iraq. :wink:

Hell, so what if it doesn’t work, it’s be FUN!! I say go for it, but leave that huge canyon alone. We could probably heat and atmosphere it without doing the whole planet pretty easily.

You know, this is, I think, the biggest challenge to terraforming Mars, and it’s one that I’ve never seen addressed very well. Even Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series kind of glosses over it. At Mars’ current mass, you’d have to constantly be replenishing the atmosphere, and I can’t imagine any long-term (ie, generations) settlement being based on a system that required regular maintenance. I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t want to raise my kids on a planet where a union strike or war or whatnot could disrupt my oxygen supply.

Anyway, the only way I can see to fix this is to increase Mars’ mass. Meaning, screw the nukes, let’s hook some engines on a few hundred asteroids and plow them into the sucker! It might take a few centuries for everything to settle back down geologically, but eventually we’d have a nice little world ready to go.

The book “Terraforming” by Martyn Fogg discusses the creation of a 300mb CO2 atmosphere by drilling boreholes into supposed martian carbonate layers and exploding nuclear devices in them.

For a 100 metre thick layer and using 0.7Mt bombs you would need 4,070,000,000 bombs.

For a 1km thick carbonate layer and using 707 Mt bombs you’d only (!) need 4,000,000 of them.

To create the same atmosphere using 1km asteroids going at 10km/s into a 500 metre carbonate layer you’d need 291,000 of them.
Use the same size comets going at 30km/s and you’d need 125,000 of them.

Use a 100km size and you’d need 28 asteroids or 12 comets: you might also blow away most of the atmosphere with the impacts of such huge bodies, so a bit self defeating.

Aside from the scientific question, it would be illegal according to the Outer Space Treaty, to which the U.S. is a signatory ( )

I would think that terraforming a planet would constitute harmful contamination.

Let’s scrap it then.

you change the mass of mars by that much, wouldnt that sort of affect the orbits of the other planets? Im not too sure that terraforming mars at the expense of earth would be a good trade off.
Much better to just seal of some of the deeper canyons and crevaces, and go underground.

Given the fact that the US and the former Soviet Union can destroy each other over and over again (cite for just the US) , I find it highly unlikely we’d launch nukes towards Mars:

[li]For reason that a lot of our enemies and allies have satellites that would pickup an ICBM launch, track it, and could mistake it for a first strike[/li][li]ICBMs just don’t have the range for interplanetary response[/li][li]ICBMs are ballistic. They haven’t been programmed for interplanetary bombardment.[/li][li]Even if we could nuke Mars, with all of that nuclear fallout in the water from the ice caps, how would we filter it out?[/li][/list=1]

Just a few questions.

I’m thinking like an engineer. Sorry . . .

I find myself beyond skeptical that we could alter Mars’ mass to anything near the extent it would require to have any significant effect on the other planets. As planets go, Mars ain’t huge, but compared to an atmosphere, it’s gargantuan.