Long ago, a clan of hardy microbes called cyanobacteria helped terraform the lifeless Earth into a vibrant biosphere. Today, the very same critters could be the key to colonizing Mars.
The Spratly islands are not a natural spot for a layover. They are isolated—tiny, shallow islands spread out over a huge chunk of the South China Sea. So why are so many nations rushing to construct airline runways and other infrastructure there?
Before we talk about terraforming another planet like Mars, we have to talk about Earth—and whether we should be spending our resources trying to save it, or moving on to another pale blue dot. It’s a grim debate that some scientists say it’s time to have.
This music video from British-based music producer and remix artist Jamie XX for his song Gosh has captivated me all week. It takes a minute for the slow journey to Mars to sink in, and watching Mars turn slowly below as it’s terraformed makes for a beautiful video.
In the short film Red Witch, an aging geologist hopes to learn Mars’ history before terraforming alters the planet’s landscape forever. But she finds that the people she’s working with aren’t interested in hearing Mars’ story — they just want to prepare the planet for colonization.
Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait recently visited the SpaceX construction factory. His visit also included a chat with CEO Elon Musk. This should excite you. Plait is a consummate nerd, and Elon Musk is Elon Musk. Bring them together and you're bound to get good things (the quote up top, for instance).
Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy is one of the most important books about terraforming (and interplanetary colonization) of the past 20 years. And Robinson spent 10 years working on it, learning a lot about the subject as he went. But it all started becuase he fantasized about going backpacking on Mars.
Transforming another planet, moon, or other celestial body into a world fit for human habitation may be a key component of our post-Earth survival. But how will we determine which worlds should be terraformed and which should be left alone?
No, this isn't Earth or an artistic rendering of some far away exoplanet. It's Mars — but a hypothetical version of the Red Planet after it's undergone a rather radical facelift.
Over the years, scientists have found evidence revealing that an ocean may have covered parts of the Red Planet billions of years ago. Others suggest that a future terraformed Mars could be lush with oceans and vegetation. In either scenario, what would Mars look like as a planet alive with water and life? By…
The people in Landes, in the pre-1900s, had a problem. Their land was swampy and uneven, and they were too poor and too remote for anyone to bother putting in roads. They had to get around someway, and they way they figured out their situation gives me hope for whimsy on other planets.
As a future terraforming species, we take it for granted that Mars will be our first megaproject. But while transforming the Red Planet into something more hospitable for life seems the most logical — if not easiest — first step towards colonizing the solar system, it may actually make more sense to tackle our sister…
If you walk by even the simplest garden, you'll see plants that were transported there from other continents. If you walk by a field or an orchard, you'll definitely see foreign plants brought close to help people survive or just enjoy themselves. It seems simple now, but the ability to do this easily changed nearly…
We're all revved up for the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars today, but that doesn't stop us from dreaming about a more distant future, when Mars is terraformed and turns from a red planet into a blue one. This short film Terraform imagines hundreds of years of geohacking to make Mars habitable for plant and…
NASA's latest Mars rover, Curiosity, is currently its way to Mars, on a mission to explore whether life could exist there. If we're going to colonize Mars — and some scientists say we must — it's likely that we'll start by terraforming. Terraforming, or planetary engineering, is the process of altering the climate of…
This past weekend marked the opening of the American Museum of Natural History's brilliant new exhibition, Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration. As part of our ongoing Hardcore Science Interview series, io9 spoke with the show's curator, AMNH astrophysicist Michael Shara, about the exhibit.
Could we be colonizing Mars in your lifetime? Three different non-fiction books offered different scenarios — including bombarding Mars with "greenhouse gases" and using it as a kind of quasi-penal colony. John Hickman, author of Reopening the Space Frontier, explains.
Our efforts to intentionally alter our home planet have been unpredictable at best. Can we terraform other planets without making the same mistakes? Should we?
We've seen how things can go awry when we tinker with our planet, but geology is fairly resistant to short-term change. When we screw with ecosystems, however, the chain of effects can be long and extremely unpredictable.
Humans can rearrange the shape of our planet almost as easily as the furniture in your living room (or the deck chairs on the Titanic). Of course, it doesn't always work out as planned.