January 3, 2013
It’s hard to imagine what Mars might’ve looked like when its valleys were filled with water and its thick atmosphere sported white fluffy clouds. Now try to imagine what ancient Mars might look like with its own biosphere.
Using elevation data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, software engineer Kevin Gill was inspired to create a virtual version of the red planet with a difference. “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,” Gill told Discovery News. “It was a good way to learn about the planet, be creative and improve the software I was rendering it in.”
In the rendering, a huge ocean fills one side of the planet, feeding one of the longest valleys in the solar system, Vallis Marineris. The peaks of Mars’ huge volcanoes — Olympus Mons, Pavonis Mons, Ascraeus Mons and Arsia Mons — dominate the Tharsis Bulge with their peaks poking above the atmosphere. Gill imagined that the high-altitude equatorial volcanic region would likely be a desert where little vegetation would grow, whereas lower latitudes would support a wetter climate boosting the presence of greenery.