The Aesthetic Objection to Terraforming Mars

Part of the Space and Society book series (SPSO)


An obligation to preserve the beauty of Martian landscapes is often cited in opposition to terraforming Mars. Nevertheless, many popular images of these landscapes are artificially embellished with features of Earth’s natural beauty that cannot presently be found on Mars. The popularity of these “terraformed images” suggests that the scenic beauty of Mars is commonly—if not consciously—valued more highly in proportion to its resemblance to the more familiar beauty of Earth. On balance, do aesthetic considerations therefore support terraforming Mars, making it more Earth-like? One argument to the contrary is that Mars may offer distinctively Martian forms of beauty arising from atmospheric and geological (and perhaps biological) patterns and processes unparalleled on Earth. Such unearthly aesthetic qualities may be underappreciated and under-represented in popular imagery at present, but will be brought more fully into public consciousness by the future exploration of Mars. In this chapter, I argue that recognition of this beauty would provide at least a defeasible reason for caution about terraforming.


Mars Terraforming Aesthetics Beauty Recognition Obligation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geology and GeophysicsYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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