We are all familiar with the rocky, red surface of present day Mars - After all, that is why it is nicknamed the 'Red Planet'. And while It's definitely not a place most of us would want to live on in its present state, what if it had been filled with huge lakes, lush green fields and giant cliffs? Just like . . . Earth?
On November 13th, NASA's Goddard Conceptual Image Lab released a video of what they think Mars may have been like when it was a young planet. The animation, one of the most complex the team has ever produced, begins 4 billion years ago and depicts a planet that looks similar to ours, complete with blue skies and clouds. Then, as the years go by, the lakes dry up, clouds disappear and the sky transforms into the familiar dusty pink and tan, that we have all come to associate with Mars.
Though it can never be proved for sure, the video is based upon surface features and minerals discovered on the planet that the scientists believe are evidence that once upon a time Mars did have a much denser atmosphere and surface liquid, similar to that of earth. So how did it get to its current state?
That is something the scientists are hoping to find out from the $671mm USD Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN spacecraft (MAVEN) that launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, today (November 18th). MAVEN's mission is to orbit the Red Planet and gather enough data for scientists to reconstruct a history of its climate and try figure out how Mars lost its dense atmosphere and water and transformed into the dry icy planet it is today.
Resources: Dailymail.co.uk, livescience.com