NASA’s Retiring Top Scientist Says We Can Terraform Mars, and Maybe Venus Too

"Since joining NASA in 1980, Jim Green has seen it all," writes the New York Times. He has helped the space agency understand Earth's magnetic field, explore the outer solar system and search for life on Mars. As the new year arrived on Saturday, he bade farewell to the agency. Over the past four decades, which includes 12 years as the director of NASA's planetary science division and the last three years as its chief scientist, he has shaped much of NASA's scientific inquiry, overseeing missions across the solar system and contributing to more than 100 scientific papers across a range of topics... One of Dr. Green's most recent significant proposals has been a scale for verifying the detection of alien life, called the "confidence of life detection," or CoLD, scale. [Green says scientists have to "stop screwing around with just crying wolf."] Green has also published research suggesting it's possible to terraform Mars with a giant magnetic shield blocking the sun (to stop it from stripping the Mars atmosphere and creating habitable temperatures). "Yeah, it's doable," he explains to the Times: "Stop the stripping, and the pressure is going to increase. Mars is going to start terraforming itself. That's what we want: the planet to participate in this any way it can. When the pressure goes up, the temperature goes up... If you didn't need a spacesuit, you could have much more flexibility and mobility. The higher temperature and pressure enable you to begin the process of growing plants in the soils. "There are several scenarios on how to do the magnetic shield. I'm trying to get a paper out I've been working on for about two years. It's not going to be well received. The planetary community does not like the idea of terraforming anything. "But you know. I think we can change Venus, too, with a physical shield that reflects light. We create a shield, and the whole temperature starts going down."

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