Authors: Colin Bruce Jack
There is a cheap, simple way to create habitable zones on Mars: the solar pond. At a few metres depth in such a pond, the pressure and temperature are benign for Earth-evolved life, with ample sunlight but negligible hard radiation. To create and sustain the pond, lightweight mirrors of silvered plastic film similar to solar sail fabric are mounted on inclining masts, positioned by day to divert additional sunlight into the pond, by night horizontal above its surface to minimize thermal energy escape. A submersible at the pond’s warmest depth emits jets of water to melt any opaque surface ice that forms. A surface film of oil suppresses evaporation and absorbs UV. Tents of transparent bubble-wrap-style plastic, filled with breathable air like diving bells and anchored to the pond floor, provide pleasant sunlit living space. Crops can be grown both inside and outside the tents. Only the mirrors are exposed to the harsh conditions of the Martian surface: everything else is in a protected, quasi-terrestrial environment.
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