NASA Proposes Giant Magnetic Shield to Protect Humans on Mars

nasa mars magnetic shield radiation
The planet Mars is shown May 12, 2016, in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope when it was 50 million miles from Earth. NASA/Handout via Reuters

NASA has announced a bold plan to use a giant magnet to transform the atmosphere of Mars into one more suitable for human life.

James Green, the director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, revealed that NASA scientists want to use something called an artificial magnetosphere in order to protect the planet from harmful radiation from the sun.

Solar radiation stripped Mars of its atmosphere around three billion years ago, transforming it into the desert landscape it is today.

NASA's plan would be to place inflatable structures into a stable orbit to create a magnetic dipole at the side of Mars that faces the sun. This would gradually restore the atmosphere over time, which would create a protective layer and warm up the planet through the greenhouse effect.

Speaking at the Planetary Science Vision 2050, Green said: "The solar system is ours, let's take it. That, of course, includes Mars and for humans to be able to explore Mars…we need a better environment.

"This is not terraforming as you may think of it, where we actually artificially change the climate, but we let nature do it and we do that based on the physics that we know today."

nasa mars astrorad shields
Nasa is also testing AstroRad vests to protect against deadly solar particles on Mars. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Previous methods proposed to protect humans from the sun's radiation on Mars involve reflective vests that act as a shield, though these generally restrict mobility.

Other radical plans to make Mars a safer place to live include Elon Musk's idea to launch nuclear missiles at the Red Planet in order to warm it up to a more temperate climate.

"It's very inhospitable. It's a fixer-upper of a planet," Musk said in a 2015 interview with Stephen Colbert. "First you're going to have to live in transparent domes, but eventually you could transform Mars into an Earth-like planet. You'd warm it up. The fast way is drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles."