In the last month, a group from University of Colorado, Boulder, published a paper on Nature Astronomy entitled "Inventory of $CO_2$ available for terraforming Mars", which was highly publicized on popular media. In the work the authors claim that the $CO_2$ reserves on Mars are not enough to support the generation of an artificial greenhouse effect, thus thwarting most of the terraforming plans.

Taking this study in consideration, is there any alternative realistic strategy to perform the martian terraforming process using little or none $CO_2$ to do the greenhouse effect?

  • $\begingroup$ Have you looked at space.stackexchange.com/questions/634/… and space.stackexchange.com/questions/20635/…? $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2018 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ From what I've been looking at, there seems to be enough CO2 to support some plants, the problem is water, nitrogen, and temperature. The pressure, presently seems to be a bit of a grey-area. $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Aug 29, 2018 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ It's probably too early to tell at this point--we just don't know enough about Mars yet. The paper's abstract concludes with "terraforming Mars is not possible using present-day technology" which is a no-brainer in my opinion. It's pretty obvious that if we wanted to terraform a planet, we would need newer, better, and more advanced technology. Terraforming a planet would be the biggest project ever undertaken by humanity by dozens of orders of magnitude. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Aug 30, 2018 at 11:31
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    $\begingroup$ We are not able to terraform Mars now and also for the next decades. Hopefully we will not need all available resources for terraforming Earth when the needed technology for Mars would be available. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Aug 30, 2018 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ I am suspicious of terraforming efforts. There are reasons that Mars has the environmental conditions that it does -- its mass, lack of magnetic field, and distance from the sun. If you could give it an Earth-like environment, it would still revert back to its present state, which is a nasty trick to play on the descendants of the Mars colonists. $\endgroup$
    – Greg
    Jul 25, 2020 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


Actually, it's possible to use perfluorocarbons to create the necessary greenhouse effect: https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2001/ast09feb_1. These are much stronger greenhouse gases than CO2 and are also non-toxic. Of course, terraforming would still be an expensive and long-term project, even using these gases.

  • $\begingroup$ That's a really good link, for me worth a bounty ! $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Dec 23, 2022 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ Can you repair the link? In the mean time, these alternatives are just two of many that discuss various choices for especially potent greenhouse gases. $\endgroup$
    – J.G.
    Nov 3, 2023 at 10:02

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