Elon Musk has long had his sights set on an eventual goal of making Mars a more habitable planet. His dreams of manned SpaceX flights ferrying settlers to the Red Planet are no secret, but in order for that to be a reality we’d need to spruce Mars up a bit. Recently, scientists delivered some devastating news to anyone who dreams of Mars becoming Earth-like, and a new study revealed that there’s not nearly enough carbon dioxide left on the planet to create an atmosphere.
Never one to turn down an opportunity to defy his naysayers, Musk fired back, stating that there is totally enough carbon dioxide locked up in the Martian soil, and that the researchers were just plain wrong.
The study, which was released last week and published in Nature Astronomy, explains in detail how the CO2 on Mars is trapped both in the soil and rock on the planet’s surface as well as the ice on it poles. Musk has long said that there’s enough CO2 there to create an atmosphere, but the researchers now say the actual amount is nowhere near enough.
News of the study spread across the internet and eventually landed on Musk’s Twitter doorstep. Needless to say, he disagrees with it.
There’s a massive amount of CO2 on Mars adsorbed into soil that’d be released upon heating. With enough energy via artificial or natural (sun) fusion, you can terraform almost any large, rocky body.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 31, 2018
You’ll notice here that his reply doesn’t actually address the specific statistics that the scientists put forth, namely the percentages of CO2 that instruments at Mars have detected. Those readings put a huge damper on the dreams of terraforming the planet, but Musk’s argument seems to be little more than “nope, there’s definitely enough there.”
The study is supported by hard data and calculations, while Musk’s pushback appears to be supported by his gut feeling that Mars could be terraformed. Manned missions to Mars won’t begin for another couple of decades at the earliest, and we’ll certainly learn a lot more at that point, but for now we’ll just have to wonder who is right: a team of highly-trained scientists or a billionaire entrepreneur.