According to Robert Zubrin, the founder of the Mars Society, it would take approximately 1000 years for us humans to breathe oxygen and go bouncing on mars grown grass! But to jump start the thousand year dream, we have to get the planet Mars heated up to acceptable heat levels to allow it to sustain an atmosphere capable of keeping the greenhouses gases within and melt those polar ice caps for a sustainable flow of water. There are five steps outlined by Robert Zubrin to achieve the 1000 time frame for a habitable Mars.
- Heat the planet up! - Mars needs to have the right temperatures and the necessary greenhouses to sustain life. Ideas like building a giant orbiting mirror to heat up the planet, bombarding Mars with ammonia asteroids, and building factories that would continuously pump CO2 into Mars atmosphere a la Earth style, are just some of the proposed ideas to warm the planet.
- Free the trapped CO2 Gases found in soil - Releasing the trapped gases in Mars' soil would introduce more CO2 in the atmosphere and further kick the heat notch a bit.
- Plant gardens all over Mars! - With the expected influx of water by a now heated Mars, plants should now be planted like crazy to convert some of the CO2 into Oxygen!
- Harvest decaying Planets - Yeah, we have plants all over the place, but once they start to decay, they give off some CO2, potentially wrecking the progress of the CO2-Oxygen conversion. The plants should be regularly checked and harvested when signs of decay start to crop up.
- Sit and Wait for 1000 years - 1000 years? Zubrin's calculated estimate for the plants planted on Mars to provide enough Oxygen for humans to breathe Martian air unassisted! And while we wait, we should continue to plant more plants to ensure that the 1000 year target is reached!