NASA proposes magnetic shield around Mars
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Scientists have put forward a plan to terraform Mars by surrounding the planet with a magnetic field.

The incredibly ambitious concept, which would see the atmosphere of Mars being returned to its earlier, more habitable state, was revealed at NASA's Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop, a meeting during which scientists typically discuss proposals for futuristic space missions.

NASA's Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green described the idea during a talk entitled "A Future Mars Environment for Science and Exploration."

In it, he put forward the idea of placing a "magnetic shield" in to a stable orbit between Mars and the Sun which would protect the planet from high-energy solar particles. Over time, this would allow Mars to slowly regain the atmosphere that it lost over the last few billion years.

Eventually, the greenhouse effect would begin to heat up the planet, melting the ice and flooding the surface with liquid water that would go on to create oceans and rivers.

"Perhaps one-seventh of the ancient ocean could return to Mars," said Green.

While the idea is certainly intriguing, there is one major problem with it - terraforming Mars in this way to make it more habitable for humans to live on is likely to take millions of years.

By that time, assuming we are still around, our species will have evolved beyond recognition.