Green notes that advances coming out of plasma physics could allow for the future development of inflatable structures that can generate a magnetic dipole of 1 or 2 tesla. That could [be] enough to shield Mars against the solar wind, and it wouldn’t need to be anything near as large as the planet itself.
The Planetary Science Division worked with scientists from Ames Research Center, the Goddard Space Flight Center, and a number of universities to run simulations of this scenario (PDF). The team found that a magnetic shield would allow Mars’ atmosphere to find a new equilibrium. Currently, it has stabilized at roughly 1% the density of Earth’s atmosphere, thanks to the release of gases from internal pockets. With the shield, that could increase by several times and allow the surface temperature to rise to an average of 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit).
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