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I am developing a plan to colonize Mars.

Due to Mars' current lack of dense atmosphere and lack of oxygen (its found only as traces), I am setting the following plan:

  1. Bore holes through Mars' surface in order to allow gases and lava to escape from its interior, thus increasing the density of Mars atmosphere.
  2. Transport away from the poles the polar cap water.
  3. After enough gases are released and enough water is accumulated into depressions at the equator, create farms to recover carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen, decreasing the greenhouse effect of a largely carbon dioxide atmosphere.

Can we get enough water from the polar caps and added vulcanism to create large oceans ?

Would this plan work ?

What would take to terraform Mars into a viable colony ?

--- Edit ---

Before people start talking about Mars' lack of lava:

http://www.space.com/16895-what-is-mars-made-of.html

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11962-lab-study-indicates-mars-has-a-molten-core.html

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  • $\begingroup$ What do you want to do with lava ? $\endgroup$ – Vincent Mar 2 '15 at 3:29
  • $\begingroup$ Well, if you bore a hole thru the crust and reach the lava, i am supposing that this would create an active vulcano, releasing lava around the hole, that gets solidified, and so on, creating the typical vulcano structure. $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 2 '15 at 3:31
  • $\begingroup$ The harder part is to find water, the polar caps arent enough to create large oceans, and we cannot force water containning asteroids to hit Mars on a regular basis. $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 2 '15 at 3:34
  • $\begingroup$ To better answer your question : When you have vulcanism you get lava and a lot of gases being released from that lava. $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 2 '15 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ Hydrogen sulfide would remain a gas for the most case, except in polar regions (Hydrogen Dioxide would at minimum liquify). Assuming a hole could be dug to the core, the paste would solidify long before reaching the surface...not because it cools, but because the pressure once on it is gone (this is significantly different than Earths volcanoes...it's molten via actual heat and not molten due to pressure). An alternative? Permafrost on Earth tends to hold in many gasses and the melting of it releases them. Warm the polar regions and releasing existing gas trapped beneath ice? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Mar 2 '15 at 22:59
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I think the biggest problem you will have is keeping your atmosphere. creating it is all fine and good, but there is a reason Mars doesn't currently have one. It has no (or extremely weak) magnetic field to protect an atmosphere. So even if you manage to create one, you would constantly have to keep adding to it as it is lost to space.

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  • $\begingroup$ These findings come from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, which essentially support your position here. $\endgroup$ – FumbleFingers Mar 2 '15 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ But Mars lost its atmosphere on a astronomical time scale. Lets suppose that recovering its atmosphere results in a new round of losing gases. So far so good, if for a couple of bucks you lose your atmosphere again on a astronomical time scale, this is so much time that colonizers would not care. Matter is probabbly solved around the time it takes to reengineer mars to have an atmosphere versus the time it would take to lose it again... $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 2 '15 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ Ie.: 100 years to rebuild the atmosphere versus 100000 years to lose it. This would be a good trade-off. $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 2 '15 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ @user3453518 if that turns out to be the ratio, then yes, it's worth it. But Mars magnetic field didn't just turn off either, it was also a slow process. But what ever the ratio, you need to plan to keep adding atmosphere to the planet. $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Mar 2 '15 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ So we need to engineer an artificial magnetic field generator. $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 2 '15 at 16:51
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I like your idea here, but I don't think it's possible.

First issue...If Mars does in fact have a molten core, a large part of its molten nature is derived through pressure and not heat. The article you linked produced a molten core at 40 giga-pascals with a minimum sulphur content of 10.6%. Lacking the pressure or the sulphur content, this core is solid. If it was possible to drill to it and have it rise up the hole you drilled, the pressure on it would reduce and the material would be back to a solid before it ever had the chance to flow on the surface (mind you, I'm not too familiar with the physics behind drilling to the core of Mars). Remember the paste is semi-liquid due to pressure more-so that heat.

Second issue is the gasses actually being released by this. Sulphur dioxide (formed in high heat magma) would readily solidify when exposed to Martian temperatures...however Hydrogen Sulfide that's formed in low temperature magma (like this would be) would remain a gas except around the polar regions. Hydrogen Sulfide is exceedingly toxic...most safety detection equipment considers 5-10 ppm of Hydrogen sulfide enough to set off an alarm...50-100 will cause serious eye damage...300-500ppm can disable our nervous system...and 1000 part per million of Hydrogen sulfide is near instant death (collapse of lungs after a single breathe). It's actually been used in war times.

Of the gas you'd see escaping into the atmosphere from an eruption...very little of it is what I'd consider human friendly, with the exception of water...you may have to begin a refining program to remove everything you just finished releasing. That said, a good amount of CO2 would get released from this and you may have the opening for plant life to have an abundance of what it requires.

Honestly, I think you would be better off attempting to thaw the polar regions and look for various gasses hidden away under the frozen ice caps, not unlike what is under Earth's permafrost.

Hard to speculate on if there is enough water to form an ocean...remember that mars is relatively flat (no plate tectonics to produce mountains or hills) and the majority of the land is the same elevation, with the exception of volcanoes. Olympus Mons being the largest there. An ocean on mars covers most surface area leaving just these volcanoes sticking up (admittedly Olympus Mons would make a pretty large landmass). I would think that much of Mars's water has been lost over millions of years, though I can't completely rule out a presence of underground water.

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  • $\begingroup$ Current thinking is that there is still a lot of subsurface water. I recall a statement like "it didn't go away, it just went under ground" Mars is under active exploration, so, findings are released frequently. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Mar 3 '15 at 4:42
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There is no magma, as Mars's mantle is cooled solid.

So no.

Try downing a comet instead, or contrive details where pockets of heat are found only a few miles down, or rely on an impact event to generate heat (and form a lava lake that lasts for years though crusted over).

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    $\begingroup$ Sorry but this not true. We are yet to confirm that Mars core is solid. Theres recent studies that show otherwise. $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 2 '15 at 3:47
  • $\begingroup$ Can you share a link? I yry to keep up with that stuff. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Mar 2 '15 at 3:49
  • $\begingroup$ google.com.br/… $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 2 '15 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ Very funny. What recient study? IAC I was referring to the mantle specifically; perhaps it is not solid through if the outer core is "gooey". $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Mar 2 '15 at 3:57
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf the volcanoes were formed billions of years ago, before it cooled. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Mar 2 '15 at 11:41
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One interesting idea to get oxygen would be to have a bacterial or nano agent that would free the oxygen from the iron oxide that gives Mars it's red color...
Bringing water and gasses in from outside might be an interesting option. Drop a couple comets on the surface or even burn them up in the atmosphere would bring you lots of gasses. While boreholes might not give you magma to work with, they would still give you heat, which would be a big deal. Mars is cold, so warming the place up would be almost as important as giving it an atmosphere.

Check out Kim Stanley Robinsons Mars trilogy for a few other ideas.

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