Anyone who's ever read science fiction knows that in addition to space elevators and transporters, there's another futuristic technology that we'd all dig: terraforming. Being able to transform the moon, Mars, or any other barren celestial body into a new Earth would make human interplanetary colonization a bit more feasible. However, instead of terraforming an entire planet, which at current estimates could take centuries, it appears that altering one single square kilometer first might be a bit simpler. Earlier this year, Rigel Woida, an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, received a grant from the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts to study "reflective balloons," which in theory could raise the surface temperature of Mars on that patch to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), compared with the typical high of -76 degrees Fahrenheit (-60 degrees Celsius). Woida recently gave a presentation at the NAIC meeting in October and will give another at a second meeting this March, where he will hopefully show NASA how great his concept his, and how the astronauts who study Mars in his little patch of paradise will be able to like, totally, get the best tan ever.

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Arizona student envisions giant space mirrors for terraforming Mars