Billions of years ago when the Red Planet was young, it appears to have had a thick atmosphere that was warm enough to support oceans of liquid water – a critical ingredient for life. The animation shows how the surface of Mars might have appeared during this ancient clement period, beginning with a flyover of a Martian lake.
The artist's concept is based on evidence that Mars was once very different. Rapidly moving clouds suggest the passage of time, and the shift from a warm and wet to a cold and dry climate is shown as the animation progresses.
The lakes dry up, while the atmosphere gradually transitions from Earthlike blue skies to the dusty pink and tan hues seen on Mars today.
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission, is scheduled for launch on November 18, 2013, at 18:28 UTC. This will be the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere and what went wrong with it.
Video credit, caption and featured image: NASA Goddard
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