Researchers at Harvard University, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the University of Edinburgh have identified a way in which individual regions on Mars can be made habitable. This may be the first stage of the terraforming of the Red Planet. This was reported in a press release on Phys.org.
According to experts, it is possible to imitate the greenhouse effect using silica airgel. The simulation results showed that a layer made of this substance with a thickness of two to three centimeters can transmit visible sunlight in an amount sufficient for photosynthesis, but at the same time block ultraviolet radiation. In addition, the temperature under the canopy of the airgel will rise above the melting point of the ice, which eliminates the need for an internal heat source.
A similar phenomenon occurs on Mars in the region of polar ice caps containing water and a large amount of carbon dioxide. Frozen carbon dioxide traps heat, which creates hot spots under the ice. Airgel is also characterized by low thermal conductivity. This is achieved using layers of silicon dioxide, which slow down the transfer of heat. The high porosity of the airgel allows light to pass through the material.