Can human beings live on Mars ? Not at present, but several scientists are working on solutions to make this possible. There is clearly also Elon Musk , who with his ideas and plans wants to get to the Red Planet to create a human colony, even if this will not happen soon.
Now a team of researchers from Harvard, CalTech and the University of Edinburgh has recreated conditions similar to those that can be found on Mars to test a material that mimics the greenhouse effect present on Earth, ie a silica airgel . In particular, life could be housed in areas protected by thin airgel caps, a material almost entirely made of air, but still resistant to isolate heat and block 60% of harmful ultraviolet radiation arriving on Mars.
The research was published in Nature and according to the head of the study, Robin Wordsworth , this is an approach that takes into consideration small areas to make Mars more habitable, more easily achievable than the total modification of the atmosphere of the Red Planet. Unlike other solutions, this material can be developed and tested in a systematic way with technologies and materials that the researchers already own.
An airgel layer 2-3 centimeters thick, under Martian environmental conditions, could transmit a quantity of light useful for photosynthesis without any need for internal heat sources. Furthermore, placing all this on ice-rich regions could allow for survival and have enough heat to allow humans to grow food.
The goal then would be to create a Martian outpost, with water and the right temperatures to survive. Clearly, a long time will pass and many studies are still needed to create self-sufficient biospheres and housing domes on Mars. The researchers will probably test the idea in Antarctica.