Title: Earth and Mars
Date: 10th of August 2010 A.D
Place: Sithalapakkam, Chennai
Was seeing a show on the Discovery channel (nice to have it in Tamil), it talked how Mars once had rivers, channels and possibly oceans of water. It said Mars too had atmosphere, but where are all these now? The problem arose when Mars lost its magnetic field. Mars like Earth once had hot molten core which on rotation produced magnetic field. These magnetic field helped to capture solar wind which would otherwise blow away Marses fluid matter.
Whats that solar wind? Well, the sun is extremely dynamic and hot. Now and then very energetic particles from the sun escape out of its vicinity and are hurtled out into free space. If it hits any planet that contains fluid (water or air), the energy gets transferred to it. With sufficient energy the vaporized water and air escapes the planets gravitational pull and disappears into deep space, lost for ever.
A planets magnetic field deflects this solar wind and hence those that have it are unharmed. Our Earth still has magnetic field strong enough to deflect the solar wind and hence we still have water to drink and air to breadth.
How on this universe Mars lost its field of magnetism? Well Mars is small planet compared to Earth. It cooled off fast due to its small size. Its very similar to lean person gets frostbite sooner than a fat one. Since the core of Mars cooled and became solid, it had no molten core that would rotate in it to produce some magnetism to deflect this solar wind.
The loss of magnetism ensured that the charged particles from the sun hits Mars atmosphere, they disappeared, they hit oceans and water converted to vapor and gained enough energy to escape out of Marses gravity and Mars became a barren land.
Who knows now? Mars could have been a blue planet just like Earth and could have possibly supported life form (weird or similar to us).
This same demise can occur to earth too. Once we cool and loose our magnetic field we will find our-self loosing our atmosphere and oceans. For this thing to happen there is a lot of time. If humans are smart enough and work as one unit, we may find some intelligent solution to this problem. We could produce artificial magnetism that can protect us. Our dwellings can go underground. Or by using immense energy (derived from some source) can heat up our core to keep our magnetic field alive. If we are unable to find such huge amounts of energy we could fill earths core with low temperature liquid conductors like mercury or some other low melting point substance like sodium to keep it going for little more time (few thousands of years). How ever filling up earths core with different materials could change gravity, possibly could deviate earth from its usual orbit around the sun with disastrous consequence. Who knows what will happen then?
I am optimistic, humans will one day be an expert in astro engineering. We will be hurtling comets and asteroids filled with water and gases towards Mars, make it blue once again and possibly make it suitable for habitation. These comets and asteroids can be either used to bang upon Mars to release its resources or they can be processed on their way and our ships would exact essential ingredients needed for habitation and bring them to Mars safely to aid human survival.
One thing is clear, humans must develop fast, else we would last at the most a few hundreds of million years and be dead like dinosaurs.