Dr. Chris McKay Lays Out Potential Paths For Changing Mars’ Ecosystem

McKay Lays Out Potential Paths For Changing Mars’ Ecosystem. Ray Villard at Discovery News (10/24, 598K) writes a concept proposed by Ames Research Center’s Chris McKay called planetary ecosynthesis, which could make Mars more habitable for humans or restore Mars’ ecosystem if native life is discovered. According to McKay, the first process would involve warming the atmosphere to “thaw” the planet and allow water to flow on Mars again, something that could take a “a few centuries.” Afterwards, McKay predicts it would “take another 100,000 years for genetically engineered photosynthetic lifeforms to raise atmospheric oxygen to Earth levels,” which would build an ozone layer. If microorganisms are discovered on Mars, McKay notes that human alterations of the planet would shift toward restoring Mars life. McKay wrote, “If life on Mars is genetically related to life on Earth or if there is no life to revive on Mars, then, a Mars teaming with Earth life is the next best option.”