Just days after telling the world he still wants to “nuke Mars,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has slightly walked back the proposal, instead offering a new idea that doesn’t use nuclear weapons.
Musk’s new plan would use “thousands of solar reflector satellites” in an effort to warm the Red Planet. “Might make sense to have thousands of solar reflector satellites to warm Mars vs artificial suns (tbd),” Musk tweeted.
While nuking Mars is more fascinating, NASA is dubious about the plan. In 2018, the American space agency said Mars terraforming is not possible using the technology we have in the present. Besides, the intriguing science behind the concept of orbital Mars mirrors cannot be disregarded.
In 2006, NASA felicitated a University of Arizona undergraduate Rigel Woida, who studied “the use of large aperture, lightweight orbital mirrors for ‘terraforming’ an area of the martian surface so humans could affordably colonize the Red Planet.” Keeping in mind that Mars can get wickedly cold, the habitats built on the Red Planet and the space suits need to handle the extreme temperatures.