#AtoZChallenge – Planetary Engineering

Time for P in my Sci-Fi themed A-to-Z Challenge!


I had to choose Planetary Engineering for P as soon as I found a paper co-written by Carl Sagan on the subject! Planetary engineering uses technology to change the environment of a planet or moon. In science fiction, this usually takes the form of terraforming – the process of altering the environment, atmosphere, and temperature of a world to make it habitable.
In science-fiction and in real science, Mars is chosen as the best candidate for terraforming – it’s the closest terrestrial body and would be the “easiest” to work with. It’d be a real challenge – the process would have to increase the average temperature and pressure, greatly increase the level of oxygen, and decrease the amount of carbon dioxide on the surface.
Aside from terraforming, planetary engineering could also involve seeding a planet. For example, on Jupiter’s moon Europa, some microorganisms from Earth might be able to live under the frozen surface of that moon’s oceans. It could be possible to build up an ecosystem by introducing new species, one at a time.
There is also geoengineering, the application of these ideas to Earth. A lot research is going into how to help Earth recover from global climate change, like I mentioned in yesterday’s article about orbital mirrors.
With all the research going into global climate change, it probably won’t be that long before we see some kind of planetary engineering plan take shape.

More about planetary engineering:


Research by James Pollack and Carl Sagan: