Blankets of Silica Aerogel Could Make Parts of Mars Habitable

In Earth's atmosphere, CO2 lets sunlight in, but traps it in the atmosphere, warming the planet. The same thing, sort of, happens on Mars, where all the CO2 is frozen. Polar ice caps on Mars are a combination of water ice and frozen CO2. Just like its gaseous form here on Earth, frozen CO2 allows sunlight to penetrate while trapping heat. In the summer, this solid-state greenhouse effect creates pockets of warming under the ice, seen here as black dots in the ice. Image Credit: NASA

The idea of somehow terra-forming Mars to make it more habitable is a visionary, sci-fi dream. But though global terra-forming of Mars is out of reach, the idea persists. But now, a material called silica aerogel might make make the whole idea of terra-forming Mars slightly less impossible.

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