A new study suggests lightning may be weak or nonexistent in Martian dust storms. Researchers vibrated basalt grains at various atmospheric pressures to test their ability to build up charge.

Lightning in a dust storm plays a role in my forthcoming book, Air: Generation Mars, Book One. Hard science fiction is a moving target. Still, the fictional strike in question is weak and only damaging to electrical equipment, so I think it’s plausible.


Whither terraforming?

Humans love the idea of a rebel. But only the idea. Take action too far outside the box of current experience and you begin to hear the Greek Chorus of naysayers heckling you, gleefully glomming onto anything that might pull you back within accepted norms.

Such has been the case recently regarding a paper in the journal Nature Astronomy, which reported that there does not appear to be enough CO2 on Mars to allow for terraforming. I can’t count the number of articles that have floated through my various feeds starting with the mocking phrase “Sorry Elon…” Google it yourself and see what I mean.

Continue reading “Whither terraforming?”

Viking imagery redux

Some really nice reprocessing of old Viking imagery.

“I am fond of the Viking missions. Their orbits took them far above Mars (as far as 56,000 kilometers from the surface), giving them the ability to take sweeping images of entire hemispheres. Modern missions mostly don’t stray so far from Mars’ surface, and can’t fully capture the same sweeping vistas captured by the Viking Orbiters. ”