Mars is a potentially habitable planet given the appropriate planetary engineering efforts. In order to create a habitable environment, the planet must be terraformed, creating quasi-Earth conditions. Benchmarks for minimum acceptable survivable human conditions were set by observing atmospheric pressures and temperatures here on Earth that humans are known to exist in. By observing a positive feedback reaction, it is shown how the sublimation of the volatile southern polar ice cap on Mars can increase global temperatures and pressures to the benchmarks set for minimum acceptable survivable human conditions. Given the degree of uncertainty, utilization of pressure scale heights and the Martin extreme terrain were used to show how less than desirable conditions can still produce results where these benchmarks can be met. Methods for obtaining enough energy to sublimate the southern polar ice cap were reviewed in detail. A new method of using dark, carbonaceous Martian moon material to alter the overall average albedo of the polar ice cap is proposed. Such a method would increase Martian energy efficiency. It is shown that by covering roughly 10% of the Martian polar ice cap with dark carbonaceous material, this required energy can be obtained. Overall contributions include utilization of pressure scale heights at various suggested settlement sites, as well as polar albedo altering as a method of planetary engineering. This project serves as a foundational work for long term solar system exploration and settlement.
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Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering (B.S.A.E.)
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science; Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Barsoum, Christopher, "The Thermodynamics of Planetary Engineering on the Planet Mars" (2014). HIM 1990-2015. 1552.