Elon Musk, CEO of both Tesla Motors and SpaceX, told new CBS "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert this week that he's in favor of nuking Mars to warm it up, making it more hospitable for human living.
"It is a fixer upper of a planet," Musk said on Thursday night's show. "At first you are going to have to live in transparent domes but eventually you can transform Mars into an Earth-like planet. You’d warm it up. Just warm it up. There’s the fast way and the slow way. The fast way is to drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles."
Colbert, who noted that some people have called Musk "the real Tony Stark" — aka Iron Man — was taken aback by the suggestion.
"You’re a supervillain!" Colbert exclaimed. "That’s what a supervillain does. Superman doesn't say, 'Let's drop nuclear bombs.' That's Lex Luthor, man."
According to the Los Angeles Times
, the average temperature on Mars is quite low — similar to Antarctica in the winter.
The news organization note that Musk is not the first to propose warming up Mars with a few nukes.
Brian Toon, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, wrote in 1991 that nukes are not preferable, however.
"It seems possible to make it earthlike, but there's a lot of barriers to overcome," Toon said. "Blowing up bombs is not a good one."
Joshua Bandfield of the University of Washington and a senior research scientist at the Boulder-based Space Science Institute, has noted that nukes may or may not warm Mars up to "earthlike" levels. Detonating such a large bomb would also alter the landscape considerably, changing what we currently know about the planet.
Musk did mention that a slower and less violent way to warm up Mars would be to add greenhouse gasses to its atmosphere.
At least one Twitter user weighed in on the plan to warm Mars, proposing that redirecting an asteroid to hit the Red Planet might have a similar effect to a nuclear bomb.
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