Featured Event

Can we terraform Mars?

Event Date: Wednesday, Nov 06, 2019

People have been talking recently about “terraforming” Mars—making the environment more Earth-like by raising the atmospheric pressure so that people wouldn’t need spacesuits, and raising the temperature to allow liquid water to be stable at the surface. If this could be done at all, it would require using carbon dioxide (CO2), which is an effective and naturally occurring greenhouse gas. We would need to find sinks where the CO2 on Mars has gone and figure out how to put the CO2 back into the atmosphere. Is there enough CO2 on Mars to allow this? How easy would it be to mobilize the CO2 and put it back into the atmosphere?

In this presentation, LASP’s associate director for science and principal investigator for NASA’s MAVEN Mars orbiter, Bruce Jakosky, will discuss how much CO2 was ever present on Mars, where it went, and whether it’s possible to put it back into the atmosphere to terraform the planet. He’ll also talk about future exploration plans for Mars, using both robotic and human missions, and the potential for colonizing Mars.

Features & News

An India-Pakistan nuclear war could kill millions, threaten global starvation

October 2

A nuclear war between India and Pakistan could, over the span of less than a week, kill 50-125 million people—more than the death toll during all six years of World War II, according to new research.

A new study conducted by researchers from CU Boulder and Rutgers University examines how such a hypothetical future conflict would have consequences that could ripple across the globe. Today, India and Pakistan each have about 150 nuclear warheads at their disposal, and that number is expected to climb to more than 200 by 2025.

The picture is grim. That level of warfare wouldn’t just kill millions of people locally, said LASP atmospheric scientist Brian Toon, who led the research published today in the journal Science Advances. It might also plunge the entire planet into a severe cold spell, possibly with temperatures not seen since the last Ice Age.

Think Saturn’s rings are old? Not so fast

September 16

A team of researchers has reignited the debate about the age of Saturn’s rings with a study that dates the rings as most likely to have formed early in the solar system.

In a paper published today in Nature Astronomy and presented at the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019 in Geneva, the authors, including LASP research associate, Sean Hsu, suggest that processes that preferentially eject dusty and organic material out of Saturn’s rings could make the rings look much younger than they actually are.

Volcanic eruption may explain recent purple sunrises

September 12

Early one morning in late August 2019, Colorado photographer Glenn Randall hiked several miles to a stream flowing into Lake Isabelle in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. He set up his camera near the stream and began photographing about 20 minutes before sunrise when a golden glow developed at the horizon. It wasn’t until Randall was back at home, however, that he noticed something odd: The sky above the golden glow and its reflection in the water were both a deep violet.

He’s not alone. Photographers across the country have noticed that sunrises and sunsets have become unusually purple this summer and early fall.

Now, LASP researchers have collected new measurements that help to reveal the cause of those colorful displays: an eruption that occurred thousands of miles away on a Russian volcano called Raikoke.