is a science writer. She actually is the Latin America correspondent for Science, and her work has also appeared in Wired and Slate. She lives in Mexico City.
Aeon for Friends
It wasn’t the Martians’ fault their planet died. Should they existed – once – Martians were likely microbes, residing in a world just like our very own, warmed by an atmosphere and crisscrossed by waterways. But Mars started to lose that atmosphere, perhaps because its gravity wasn’t strong adequate to hold it was gradually blown away by solar winds onto it after an asteroid impact, or perhaps. The reason continues to be mysterious, but the ending is clear: Mars’s liquid water dried up or froze into ice caps, leaving life without its most resource that is precious. Any Martians might have been victims of a planet-wide natural disaster they could neither foresee nor prevent.
For Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, the moral implications are clear: we have to help our neighbours. Earthlings might possibly not have had the oppertunity to intervene when Martians were dying masse that is enwe were just microbes ourselves), but now, huge amounts of years later, we could make it as much as them. We’ve already figured out a very good method to warm a planet up: pump greenhouse gases into its atmosphere. McKay imagines a future that is not-too-distant which we park machinery on Mars that converts carbon and fluorine in the Martian soil into insulating chlorofluorocarbons, and spews them to the planet’s puny atmosphere like a protein shake designed to bulk it up. ‘On Earth, we might call it pollution. On Mars, it’s called medicine,’ McKay told me in a job interview. On his calculation, Mars would be warm adequate to support water and microbial life within a century. Continue reading