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#1 2020-07-15 08:21:12

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,884

Thermally manipulating the Martian upper atmosphere.

I see that there is some activity around building a artificial Martian magnetic field.

I think that manipulating the temperatures in the Martian upper atmosphere could be done along side of that to reduce atmospheric losses, and perhaps reduce the magnitude of the field needed.

A long time ago, I read that planting vegetation in areas where it is absent, can draw in rain.
The reasoning is that it causes the higher atmosphere to cool off, as less radiant energy goes into that upper sky.

About Mars then:
All the solar energy, and the geothermal energy of Mars has eventually to go to the sky.  But you could average reduce reflection from the ground materials, and also retain the heat of materials on the surface into the nighttime and into winter.  Then you would reduce the peak heating events in the upper atmosphere.  This could then assist in the retention of atmosphere.

A good heat sink, that will allow the time delayed release of heat accumulated in the day sky to the night sky's, is water.  For Mars now this needs to have a covering of some kind.  It can be ice, glass, plastic films, and opaque structures, possibly largely made of metals.

The movements of energy can allow us to tap into some of it for our purposes.

This morning, I have come onto a modification of a device, which could serve our purposes very well, to generate energy, and to shunt energy from the day sky's to the night sky's, in order to help retain atmosphere.

These then are to be pressure vessels, probably filled with a mixture of Oxygen and Nitrogen/Argon.  As Spacenut might choose, something like the skylab mixture.

Solar cells may cover most of the area of the projection which is above the soil covered ice.  Heliostats can direct solar energy away from the soil that covers the ice, and to the smile "Chicken egg solar power tower".

I did mention water as the time delay storage medium for heat.  So, we can have another look at this article: … %20tens%20
They offer this parameter for the ice slab:

The ice the scientists found measures 130 feet (40 m) thick and lies just beneath the dirt, or regolith, or Mars.

My idea is to morph diving bells into a shape like a Chickens egg, and have the pointy end project well above the soil covered ice.

The bottom end of the "Eggs" must be ballasted with sufficient regolith, possibly with gardening soil on top of that.  Of course lighting will be artificial, such as LED's.

In honor of SpaceX, I suggest that these "could" be stainless steel eggs.

It can be noted, that the more of these you build, the more water you displace, and so the more surface area you can cover with an egg laden ice covered sea.

So, in the day sky this is a dual solar collector system.  Photovoltaic, and also thermal.  Heated air should collect in the pointy end of the "Egg", but should be sufficiently remote from the farm fields below.  Both types of energy could be utilized.  I am going to suggest that an "Egg" could be a nominal 260 feet in length.  So, actually pretty spacious.

Heat collected could be dumped into the surrounding waters, which might have layer stratification by salts.  One possible protection for the "Eggs" from the salt would be regolith heaped around the egg, up to the ice.  Then release "Gland" water into this to displace salt water.

Since you would have stored heat into the waters stratified, in the night/winter/dust storms, you might care to treat the "Eggs" as a radiator.  If you have water at a temperature to produce a vapor pressure higher than the internal pressure of the Egg, you may vent steam through a turbine during the night/winter/dust storm.  This could produce beads of condensed water on the upper interior surfaces of the "Egg", and that could be good to generate distilled water, but of course we will have to think about the potential consequences of ice buildup.  It could fall down and damage people and things.  Hopefully not serve to rupture the "Egg".

The "Eggs" will tend to be warm, so some methods need to be devised to prohibit the melting or sublimation of ice, which may contact the "Egg" in certain places.

The "Eggs" being seated on the lake bottom, it should be possible to connect them to underground passages/boring tubes.

The water being adjacent to the "Eggs" airlock methods should be workable to enter the Sea waters.

And so, lots of habitat for humans, with lots of energy, and the night sky and day sky high altitude thermal conditions better averaged, to somewhat inhibit atmospheric losses.


Last edited by Void (2020-07-15 09:05:51)

I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.


#2 2020-07-15 16:25:58

From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,096

Re: Thermally manipulating the Martian upper atmosphere.

Data for topic

Earth:                                            Mars:

Nitrogen -- N2 -- 78.084%                 3.0%
Oxygen -- O2 -- 20.9476%                0.16%
Argon -- Ar -- 0.934%                       1.6%
Carbon Dioxide -- CO2 -- 0.0314%   95.0%
Neon -- Ne -- 0.001818%
Methane -- CH4 -- 0.0002%
Helium -- He -- 0.000524%
Krypton -- Kr -- 0.000114%
Hydrogen -- H2 -- 0.00005%
Xenon -- Xe -- 0.0000087%
Ozone -- O3 -- 0.000007%
Nitrogen Dioxide -- NO2 -- 0.000002%
Iodine -- I2 -- 0.000001%
Carbon Monoxide -- CO -- trace            0.06%
Ammonia -- NH3 -- trace
The Composition of Planetary Atmospheres


Man-made greenhouse gases

CO2 is estimated to be responsible for 64 % of man-made global warming. Other greenhouse gases are released in much smaller amounts but still contribute significantly to the overall warming effect, as they are much more potent heat-trapping gases than CO2.

This is the case with methane (CH4), which is responsible for 17 % of man-made global warming, and with nitrous oxide (N2O), which accounts for 6 % of the effect.

The main man-made greenhouse gases and their sources are:
CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) – for use in electricity generation, transportation, industry and households – and land-use changes like deforestation;
CH4 from agriculture and waste landfilling;
fluorinated greenhouse gases – such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) – used in industry.

10 Worst Greenhouse Gases

The escape of planetary atmospheres


#3 2020-07-15 16:42:16

From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,096

Re: Thermally manipulating the Martian upper atmosphere.

I think that we found that during night the ground level pressure goes up and the night time air gets saturated with water but unsure of how high that level gets in the atmosphere above the ground but as the day light hits the air it falls out as the atmosphere begins to thin..
One issue is that we want a breathable atmosphere for plant and then for animal all the while trying to thicken up the pressure and content to make it so that we can breath it even at a partial pressure. We may need to have assisted breathing apparatus for a while as we can bare the level of pressure as we switch from body pressure suit use to mcp type.
That said we are going to need chemical gasses that are heavy to aid with the thickening.


#4 2020-07-15 17:10:36

From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,154

Re: Thermally manipulating the Martian upper atmosphere.

Void, well done for an interesting new topic.

I had always assumed that the ionosphere was directly heated by short wave UV solar radiation, rather than radiated long wave (IR) radiation.  I don't think there is any way of reducing the amount of long wave radiation reaching the ionosphere from the Martian surface, so long as the surface is in thermal equilibrium.  If you use greenhouse gases to heat up the surface, the wavelength of radiated IR will be shorter.

There is another way of cooling the upper atmosphere that may have merit.  If you inject water or liquid CO2 into the Martian stratosphere, the heat of vapourisation (2MJ/kg for water) will lead to cooling.  Likewise, injecting neutral molecules into the ionosphere will tend to drag down average temperatures, as ions at the higher end of the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution collide with the neutral molecules and energy is absorbed in the creation of new ions.

If water molecules are breaking down in the upper atmosphere, a concentration gradient would presumably form, with lighter hydrogen ions increasing in concentration towards the top of the atmosphere.  This should reduce the rate of loss of other molecular species.

Last edited by Calliban (2020-07-15 17:16:16)

Interested in space science, engineering and technology.


#5 2020-07-15 17:40:41

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,884

Re: Thermally manipulating the Martian upper atmosphere.

What you say might be true, but if you cool and densify the layers below it, then the ionosphere would drop to the degree that the layers below it dropped.

I would argue that each layer may be different, but the day side receives sunlight of the whole spectrum from the sun.  It also will receive long wave emissions from the planets surface, but it also will receive reflected sunlight.

The night side apparently does not receive much infrared from the ground or of course neither direct sunlight or reflected sunlight.

If you can defer photon emissions/reflection to the night side, it may be that some layer of the atmosphere will thicken and so become less of an elevator for the layers above it.  So, then the highest layers, are caused to be deeper into the gravity well of Mars, and perhaps just a bit harder for the solar wind to pluck away.

This would also reduce the magnitude of the Magnetic field needed to protect from atmospheric losses.

Plus we are interposing our machines, into the flow path of entropy and so may borrow energy from it and release it at night or winter, or dust storm time.  We are time delaying the thermal processes of Mars doing this.

We may use water as a time delay heat sink.  We may generate electricity solar panels, and may extract heat from the high dome of the "Eggs", and may then store the heat into the waters, we may also store waste heat from our machinery in the water, and then in sunless times, night/winter/dust storms, we may generate electricity releasing the heat to those dark skies.


I do believe I read a long time ago, that green plants do something like this, where they absorb some of the light, and so cool off upper layers, so that they can condense rain.


Not Done smile

We also have the possibility that to some degree that U.V. causes fluorescence, which we cannot see, and that also goes to the day sky.
For our solar cells, we want to have efficiency of electrical production, but we also want to get the heat out of the solar cells into the walls of the Egg.  It may be that it would pay to fan cool the upper portion of the "Egg(s)" for that reason.  We want as little energy to go back up to the skies, as possible, and we also want to shade the ice.  The heliostats will shade the ice, so that ground temperatures stay lower during the day.  The "Egg(s)" are to be the energy sinks, and the water the heat sinks.  And in the night, the "Egg(s)" are radiators.


We may also have some sneaky tricks for the night skies.  Don't know if can be made compatible with solar cells or heliostats, but here they are:

-Anti-solar cells: … ep%20space.

-Radiative Cooling in specific wavelengths.  The sky has infrared windows that heat can pass through.  I believe this can allow a surface to cool even during the day.  So, maybe we will find and be able to exploit the windows in the Martian atmosphere that might help to dispose of heat.


Not Done smile

Cold tends to cause shrinkage smile (For gasses).

Honey I shrunk the atmosphere!


Last edited by Void (2020-07-15 18:16:11)

I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.


#7 2020-07-15 19:46:57

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,884

Re: Thermally manipulating the Martian upper atmosphere.

Stimulation.  OK.

There are several things we might want to try to tweak for Mars to get what we might want.

I am thinking a layer of high orbital devices, to gather energy to project to polar areas and for needs elsewhere, and a layer of low orbital devices, to shade low latitudes and also to project energy to mid latitudes.

So, for any of these devices if they are to be part-time solar concentrators, we want a reflective nature on the concave side.  I suggest that on the convex side, normal solar cells.  In addition, we want the mirrored side to act like an Anti-solar cell if we can.

The objectives then are to make additional energy available to the Mars community, and also to rebalance the heat for low latitudes and high latitudes.  If we could use the low orbital devices to shade the low latitudes, they would be more competitive in condensing moisture relative to the high latitudes.  So, we would hope to re-distribute the water resource, even if we never resort to melting water at the poles and re-directing it to lower latitudes by pumping, and rivers and canals and tunnels.

The low altitude mirrors would present convex side to the sun, when they were on the day side of the planet.  Perhaps they would never bother to be mirrors, just shades.  With solar cells on the convex side, pointing at the sun they would generate electricity, and also heat up.
It is better to cool them down.  So, on the concave side, you might have Anti-solar cells.  And of course this power either has to be used on site in orbit, or transmitted down to Mars by Laser or Microwaves.

These low altitude, low latitude devices would be like a belt swarm of shades.  Got to watch out for a Kessler effect though.

The higher orbital devices would do less shading, if they did shading at all.  And would perhaps be just mirrors to shine light to the high latitude nighttime as a preference.


Last edited by Void (2020-07-15 19:57:47)

I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.


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