What Would Mars Look Like if It Still Had Water?
Earlier this month, NASA scientists discovered clues that suggest some form of liquid water exists on Mars. But what if Mars was full of flowing oceans and a rich carbon dioxide-filled atmosphere like Earth?
That’s exactly what software engineer Kevin Gill visualized using data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter. Using an open source geospatial software application, Gill reconstructed the planet using the data extracted plus arbitrary sea levels to create a more plush mockup of the previously red and barren planet.
This may be more of a creative process than a scientific venture, admits Gill. “I had been doing similar models of Earth and have seen attempts by others of showing life on Mars, so I figured I’d give it a go. This wasn’t intended as an exhaustive scientific scenario as I’m sure (and expect) some of my assumptions will prove incorrect. I’m hoping at least to trigger the imagination, so please enjoy!”
Though scientists already that water was present on Mars at some point in the form of ice, recent discoveries have give them reason to believe that water could be present on Mars right now. After seeing recent images of Martian mountains, scientists spotted dark lines that move down the slopes when the surface heats up, indicating that water could exist there right now. “We still don’t have a smoking gun for existence of water in RSL, although we’re not sure how this process would take place without water,” said Georgia Tech graduate student Lujendra Ojha.
Gill’s design shows stark contrast between an Earth-like climate versus a Martian climate and how fragile a life-sustaining climate is.