A magnifying device constructed in space for the purpose of amplifying the solar radiation received by the surface of Mars, in order to aid in the process of Terraforming. Put into place by the transnationals in the start of the 22nd century.


“Well, and now with this soletta pouring sunlight onto the surface!” Jessica exclaimed. She shook her head, as if disapproving. “Natural insolation averaged forty-five percent of Earth’s, and with the soletta it’s supposed to be up to fifty-four.”

“Tell me more about this soletta,” Sax said carefully.

They told him in a kind of round. A group of transnationals, led by Subarashii, had built a circular slatted array of solar sail mirrors, placed between the sun and Mars and aligned to focus inward sunlight that would have just missed the planet. An annular support mirror, rotating in a polar orbit, reflected light back to the soletta to counterbalance the pressure of the sunlight, and that light was bounced back onto Mars as well. Both these mirror systems were truly huge compared to the early freighter sails Sax had enlisted to reflect light onto the surface, and the reflected light they were adding to the system was really significant. “It must have cost a fortune to build them,” Sax murmured.

“Oh, it did. The big transnats are investing like you can’t believe.”

“And they’re not done yet,” Berkina said. “They’re planning to fly an aerial lens just a few hundred kilometers above the surface, and this lens will focus some of the incoming light from the soletta, until it heats the surface up to fantastic temperatures, like five thousand degrees—”

“Five thousand!”

“Yes, I think that’s what I heard. They plan to melt the sand and the regolith underneath, which will release all the volatiles into the atmosphere.”

“But what about the surface?”

“They plan to do it in remote areas.”

“In lines,” Claire said. “So that they end up with ditches?”

“Canals,” Sax said.

“Yes, that’s right.” They laughed.

“Glass-sided canals,” Sax said, troubled by the thought of all those volatiles. Carbon dioxide would be prominent among them, perhaps chief among them.

Green Mars, p. 177 (Bantam Spectra June 1995 Paperback edition)