Fiction could become reality as scientists plan to ‘terraform’ the fourth rock from the Sun.

Finding life on Mars has proved an elusive dream for decades. But scientists now believe they may be able to do it for themselves – by turning the Red Planet into a blue world with streams, green fields and fresh breezes and filling it with Earthly creatures.

The idea – known as terraforming – sounds like science fiction. But turning Mars into an Earthly paradise is being taken seriously by increasing numbers of researchers.

They believe that, billions of years after its last seas and rivers dried up, Mars could be restored to its ancient glory thanks to human ingenuity. Its craters would become lakes and its red, parched hillsides would be covered with forests, ultimately providing mankind’s teeming ranks with a new home.

This startling concept will be the focus of a major international debate, to be hosted this week by

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