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Elon Musk and Past Nuclear Explosions on Mars

In an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk proposed his own solution for raising the temperature on Mars to make it habitable for humans: “Drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles.” While some are debating whether this is feasible and if it will actually work, perhaps we should consider others who say that there have already been nuclear explosions on Mars that didn’t appear to be successful and instead left the Red Planet in the poor and radioactive it’s in today.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Martian polar ice caps contain water and carbon dioxide which a nuclear explosion might release into the atmosphere, causing an eventual greenhouse effect that would heat the planet and liquefy water. It might take thousands of devices and centuries for the eventual warming to occur – if it does at all.

These explosions might instead cause a cloud cover that creates a nuclear winter, making the planet even less hospitable than it already is and killing any microorganisms that are living on or below the surface. There is some thought that this may have happened before.

Locations of ancient nuclear blasts according to Dr. John Brandenburg

Locations of ancient nuclear blasts according to Dr. John Brandenburg

In his 2015 book, “Death on Mars: The Discovery of a Planetary Nuclear Massacre,” physicist Dr. John Brandenburg proposes that Mars was once inhabited and its two advanced civilizations – Cydonians and Utopians – were hit by nuclear explosions triggered by alien invaders, wiping them out and leaving high concentrations of Xenon-129 in the atmosphere. Dr. Brandenburg has also theorized that a separate natural nuclear explosion could have given Mars its red color.

Mushroom cloud photographed by India's Mars Orbiter Mission

Mushroom cloud photographed by India’s Mars Orbiter Mission

Then there’s the mushroom cloud on Mars seen in an image taken in 2014 by the India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. No explanation has been given for the cloud nor why the orbiter just happened to be pointed at the spot when and where it occurred. If it was a nuclear explosion, it didn’t help.

Is Musk serious or just throwing ideas against a Martian crater wall to see what sticks? Should we nuke Mars into a better place? Have we heard this before? Should Elon instead focus on electric cars and making Earth a more hospitable place for humans?