Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Scientists To See If Martian Trees Are Possible

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Researchers are trying to determine whether or not trees would be able to grow and survive within a future (partially terraformed) Martian atmosphere. Trees play an important role in keeping humanity alive (via oxygen) and scientists are hoping to be able to transfer their significance off world.

(MSNBC) Scientists are using the pine-forested slopes of a Mexican volcano as a test bed to see if trees could grow on a heated-up Mars, part of a vision of making the chilly and barren red planet habitable for humans one day.

Planetary scientists at NASA and Mexican universities believe if they can warm Mars using heat-trapping gases, raise the air pressure and start photosynthesis, they could create an atmosphere that would support oxygen-breathing life forms.

Scientists are currently looking at trees living upon Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's tallest mountain (and notably an extinct volcano). These trees seem to display a unique ability to survive in the thinner air, which make make them preferable to algae and moss in the long run.

Note: Scientists still have not determined whether or not Martian soil is fertile, although humans may have to "create their own" fertilizer in order to make this dream a reality (at least in biospheres).

Update: Corrected title link.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

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