Space is a strange foreign place that has many mysteries. Humans have looked up at the stars in awe and wonder for as long as we can remember. We dreamt of traveling to space and exploring our universe. We search to see if we are alone in this universe or if there is life elsewhere in the universe. With all these hopes and dreams about space, we still haven’t fully mastered space travel and don’t fully understand the universe. “Mars to Boy” is a short story following a young man, by the name of Nikola, following these dreams.
However, this story also explores the idea that as humans we have traveled to and egun colonizing mars. But we don’t want to stop there. After multiple years at mars and mastering travel between the two, a team of scientists aim to send a large ship of people into space to land on the nearest possibly habitable planet. Nikola wishes to partake in this expedition but first must face the obstacles in front of him. Space is a dangerous and unforgiving place, full of electromagnetic radiation, and void of air. Many of our surrounding planets lack the capability of protecting us as well. Earth is our haven with things such as the magnetosphere and ur atmosphere protecting us from the harsh surrounding environment.
Mars on the other hand, has perplexed us. It appears that it was once like Earth, but something has changed it. One of the major issues is its magnetosphere. It doesn’t really have a global magneto sphere and without one, solar winds tear apart its atmosphere to the point where it is now. This leads to some issues that will be seen in the story as it will not make colonization or life on mars and easy task to accomplish or maintain. If we are to truly understand and travel to mars, we must first understand the power and dangers that the sun oses to us, our planet, and mars. The first major issue comes from the sun in the form of solar winds. Solar winds are charged particles from the sun traveling at immense speeds ().
We have known about these solar winds for a while and now have a better understanding of what they are and what effects they have on our planet. Solar winds are made of plasma which is a gas made up of charged particles that has been heated. Solar winds also are also composed of other elements like oxygen or helium (). These groups of charged particles and elements can travel through space at peeds ranging massively from 700,000 miles per hour, to 1. 7 million miles per hour (). These winds can have a lot of effects on the planets and objects that they interact with. These effects can cause many issues in space, and can have strange and interesting effects on the planets. One of these effects can be seen in Earth’s aurora (). However other variants of these effects aren’t as beautiful as aurora.
Solar wind can cause issues with important navigation tools such as radio waves and GPS. Knowing and understanding these effects and why they happen an be very useful in learning how to protect against them. Radio signals and GPS signals are important to things such as naval and plane navigation. So, having something interfere with them can have massive effects. While we are protected from most of the charged particles coming from solar winds, some of them do pass through the magnetosphere that protects us and enter the ionosphere (). When it enters the ionosphere, and combines with what is already there, the particles become super ionized (). These particles try and go towards the poles of the earth and are what we see when we see aurora.
However, these super ionized particles can interfere with signals such as radio waves and GPS signals (). These interferences bend and eliminate signals stopping them from working properly. Most radio and GPS systems account for this and try and compensate for the average everyday plasma in the ionosphere. However, when weather from space decides to act up a bit more than normal, it can become abnormal to the system and interfere with these navigational signals (). So where do these bundles of charged particles that once destroyed mars’ atmosphere and now interfere with our signals come from?
The sun obviously. But that doesn’t fully answer exactly where they come from or how they occur. The sun is very large but can be categorized into areas. The major one that is most related to solar winds is the Corona, the outermost area of the sun (). This is where the transition occurs for the charged bundles of plasma to become what we consider solar wind (). Most of the plasma in the sun is extremely hot and contains enough energy to escape the sun’s gravity (). This is how solar wind occurs for the most part. Solar winds have been categorized into two categories, slow solar wind, and fast solar ind ().
The major difference between them is their composition, or number of electrons and charged particles, and speed (). However, another major difference is how they are formed in the sun. Scientists have come to learn that slow solar wind appears to be created from a process known as magnetic reconnection (). In layman’s terms this is a process where two magnetic fields come together and push each other away in different directions (). Scientists have studied slow solar wind using tools and have seen distinct patterns that lead them to believe that magnetic reconnection is how slow solar wind is ormed ().
So now we have a small understanding of where solar winds come from, and how they are affecting the things that they interact with. We as humans obviously don’t understand all of it, but this current understanding is a first step in understanding it well enough to explore our surroundings. This said, understanding the origins and interactions of solar wind doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Solar winds destroyed mars’ atmosphere and are still stripping away layers of its atmosphere. Scientists predict that mars once had a thick atmosphere that was like earths (). However solar winds have tarted destroying its atmosphere.
As stated before, solar winds travel at immensely fast speeds and are constantly traveling throughout space. This extremely fast plasma reaches mars and hits and interacts with its outer atmosphere and causes ions in this outer atmosphere to shoot out into space (). This slowly has thinned and diminished mars’ atmosphere to what it is now (). Solar winds have much more trouble doing this to earth on the other hand due to Earth’s magnetic shield known as the magnetosphere. This magnetosphere is the area where most of the planet’s magnet field resides ().
This magnetic field blocks most of the charged particles from entering, protecting earth’s atmosphere from the fate that mars’ atmosphere faced (). As solar winds hit the magnetosphere they deform it however. The side facing the sun, or the “dayside magnetosphere” acts somewhat like a drum when hit. The other side of the planet’s magneto sphere however, is swept up by the solar winds in a way and stretches extremely far back (). This magnetosphere is formed by the constant motion of molten Iron below the surface of the Earth ().
This protective magnetic field layer of earth is an mportant part in protecting us from the dangers posed by the sun. It doesn’t protect us from every charged particle as discussed before when some charged particles are able to pass through it and enter the ionosphere. This leads us to wonder why mars doesn’t have one. The bombardment of solar winds from the sun have some strange effects on mars. Solar winds also have a magnetic field that they carry, and these magnetic fields can’t pass through things such as mars. This leads to the magnetic field hitting mars and deforming around mars creating a sort of new magnetosphere ().
This magnetosphere from the sun does not properly shield mars from solar winds and so thus mars still has its atmosphere stripped of it by solar winds. However, there is evidence that suggests that mars once had a magneto sphere capable of protecting it from solar winds from the sun. This evidence is that of magnetic readings taken of the surface of mars where extremely powerful magnetic fields were found in small areas creating something called a mini-magnetosphere (). These mini- magnetospheres may help protect what is left of mar’s atmosphere ().
Mars does not currently have a magnetosphere and that ould be a major issue for any human expeditions or endeavors on mars. This however, has not deterred us. Scientists have proposed a theoretical artificial magnetic shield that would can protect mars from solar winds (). If this became a reality, it would lead to mars’ atmosphere being able to naturally thicken itself due to things such as volcanic emission (). This in turn would lead to the return of mars’ oceans (). This is a theoretical solution to the terraforming of mars and is the solution that will be used and explored in the short story “Mars to Boy”.
With these pieces in place, it appears that we have a good grasp on the space surrounding our planet and in our solar system. There are still many mysteries to be solved and many more challenges to overcome before we go as far as to travel to mars and colonize it, but with all this information as the base to build off it is very possible for humans to travel through space and explore our universe and learn all that there is to learn about it. People have dreamed of traveling through space for a very long time, the story “Mars to Boy” explores this and many of the topics discussed in this paper.