Beyond theory, are any organizations doing experimental work on Mars terraforming? In laboratory environments.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is an excellent question. We have over fifty questions tagged terraforming but they are mostly hypothetical. Instead of the usual "Could we do X?" you are asking if there are any experimental investigations (of course on a small scale) that people have actually done. I am sure people will find things. There is plenty of work on growing plants in all kinds of simulant soils and unusual atmospheric and environmental conditions. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ Did you mean Geoengineering? $\endgroup$
    – jean
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose geoengineering would be an aspect certainly, but I'm curious as to whether anyone has actually begun to actually create the sort of 'bio- dome' one sees in every fictional representation of a terra formed Mars. Also, if there's any attempts to either create plants capable of surviving in extreme climates as ELw38fr and his students did, but with more advanced genetic modification or hybrid technology. I imagine some protection would $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ Earth climate observation and modeling may satisfy your requirement of "Laboratory environment," Earth being the laboratory. For example, we tracked the sulphur dioxide and particulates output from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, their distribution through the next few years, and subsequent observed meteorological changes. We use satellites, balloons and sounding rockets to sense or sample C02, Methane, ozone, chemicals, aerosols, and particulates in multiple layers of our atmosphere and incorporate that data into our climate models. That knowledge forms the basis for many terraforming schemes. $\endgroup$
    – Kengineer
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 20:40

3 Answers 3


What do you mean "beyond research" ? Such studies are done in laboratories, or they are just games. You have a few "societies", such as the Mars Society, where people try to advance in such studies. Farming is a good subject, quite an easy one, lost cost, still important, and can eventualy not require huge instrumentation. Therefore, it has focussed some attention and still keeps going on.

At a less serious level, last year, I proposed such an experiment to young students (14-15) that were interested to do some experiments. They proceeded at one, about resistance to an important daily variation of temperature. On Mars the difference between night and day is about 70 to 80°C. We did a few "studies" between sub-0° at night and about 25 to 30°C at day, starting with different type of seeds, and chosing a comparative approach with witnesses. No major discovery ;-) Apart a cute intro for these young student to science reasoning :-).


At least one research group has conducted a chemical "experiment" simulating a possible greenhouse effect on Mars:

The data received by the Mars rovers suggests that Martian soil might be extremely acidic. If that was true at a large scale, then melting Mars' frozen water resources might be enough to cause both global warming and an increase of atmospheric pressure: if you put water on acidic minerals, greenhouse gases are released.

You can see the "experiment" at the time of the linked video:

I put "experiment" in quotes because this is very elementary. But this is, in my opinion, rather in favor of this concept of terraforming than against it. (in contrast to some of the far-fetched theories)

If you watch the whole thing, you can also see other plausible ideas and practical research. Though none of it looks as fancy as “domes“ or involves genetically Mars-tailored organisms.

This is by far not a comprehensive summary on everything that's going on, but you only asked if there are "any" organizations doing such work.

  • $\begingroup$ Suggesting a link to a video would be a helpful comment, but not a Stack Exchange answer. Can you explain in your answer at least a few of the points in your video that you feel answer the question as asked? Otherwise this is a link-only answer. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. I too am not too sure its a good idea but I need the info for research. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 4, 2018 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ The main problem with mars terraforming is it's gravity, and lack of magnetosphere. Even if you can give mars a thicker atmosphere, it won't be a permanent feature, it may last a long time on human scales but eventually most of it will be lost to space. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 4, 2018 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ @ArtisticPhoenix This is not the one single solution to the problem of making Mars less hostile, just as this right here is not the place to discuss such details. The question is about what's currently being practically studied. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 4, 2018 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ I was stuck on physics SE. Your questions and answers are good. Try some of the other SE sites like Engineering or Robotics. $\endgroup$
    – Muze
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 3:39

Yes, we are doing it now. It's called climate change.

By pumping the atmosphere full of ancient carbon we are terraforming the earth.

For those climate change deniers...


CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels or burning forests has quite a different isotopic composition from CO2 in the atmosphere. This is because plants have a preference for the lighter isotopes (12C vs. 13C); thus they have lower 13C/12C ratios. Since fossil fuels are ultimately derived from ancient plants, plants and fossil fuels all have roughly the same 13C/12C ratio – about 2% lower than that of the atmosphere. As CO2 from these materials is released into, and mixes with, the atmosphere, the average 13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere decreases.

This can actually have a noticeable effect on carbon dating as well.

The Suess effect


So in short, we are already experimenting with "terraforming" on our own planet.

Fossil fuels such as coal and oil are made primarily of plant material that was deposited millions of years ago. This period of time equates to thousands of half-lives of 14C, so essentially all of the 14C in fossil fuels has decayed.[5] Fossil fuels also are depleted in 13C relative to the atmosphere, because they were originally formed from living organisms. Therefore, the carbon from fossil fuels that is returned to the atmosphere through combustion is depleted in both 13C and 14C compared to atmospheric carbon dioxide.

  • $\begingroup$ Now all we need is a "control", a second Earth that we don't screw up, just for comparison ;-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ Voting down, as this does not even attempt to answer the question. OP asks about experimental work in the context of Mars terraforming. There no such thing as "terraforming of Earth", because that would make as much sense as sweetening the sugar, making aquatic solution of water, or trying to taste your own tongue -- that is, no sense whatsoever. It is quite clear that you completely rejected the intended frame of this question just to get a cheap excuse for engaging in irrelevant ramblings about supposedly human-induced climate change. Not helpful, innovative, nor entertaining. $\endgroup$ Commented May 9, 2022 at 0:25

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