Share

NASA Video Shows Mars 4 Billion Years Ago

By Laura Dattaro
Published: November 14, 2013

NASA’s newest Mars probe is a mission 4 billion years in the making.

MAVEN, which stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, will orbit the red planet to study its climate, which today is frigid and barren, encircled in an atmosphere about 100 times thinner than Earth’s. But 4 billion years ago, the planet looked much different, with an atmosphere much more like our own and liquid water covering much of the surface.

A new video from NASA animates the transition of this early Mars — filled with blue sky, rushing rivers and vast lakes — into the desert planet we see today. Fast-moving clouds are meant to imply the passage of time, according to a NASA release. Though results from the various rovers on Mars’ surface have prompted scientists to conclude that the planet back then could have been habitable to life, no signs of any such life have been found, and are not included in the video.

Scientists know Mars had liquid water based on surface features and mineral evidence. Mars would have had to be coated in as much as 1,640 feet of water planet-wide to explain the surface features, according to a NASA release, and in order to sustain so much water, it would have needed a much thicker atmosphere.

“The interiors of some impact craters have basins suggesting crater lakes, with many showing connecting channels consistent with water flows into and out of the crater,” Joseph Grebowsky, the mission’s project scientist, said in the release. “Minerals are present on the surface that can only be produced in the presence of liquid water.”

It’s not entirely clear how Mars lost its atmosphere, though one leading theory suggests that it’s linked to the disappearance of Mars’ magnetic field. Scientists hope MAVEN, which appears at the end of the video, will help us understand the planet’s dramatic change in climate. MAVEN is set to launch from Cape Canaveral on Monday.

MORE: Images from the Mars Rover

NASA


Featured Blogs

Top 10 Weather Videos of 2014

By Dr. Jeff Masters
December 26, 2014

The year 2014 had many spectacular extreme weather events caught on video; the most remarkable were of flash flooding in Serbia and a tornado in Russia. Two artistic videos that were favorites of mine included beautiful time-lapse pieces set to music taken of monsoon thunderstorms in Arizona and the sunset/aurora on top of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. Here, then, are my choices for 2014's top 10 weather videos:

November 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By Christopher C. Burt
December 18, 2014

November was globally the 7th warmest such on record according to NOAA and 8th according to NASA (see Jeff Master’s blog for more about this). It was a cold month in the U.S. with some phenomenal lake-effect snowstorms. A powerful storm, dubbed a ‘Medicane’ formed in the Mediterranean Sea. Deadly floods occurred in Morocco, Italy, and Switzerland. It was the warmest November on record for Australia, Italy, Austria and much of Southeast Asia.Below are some of the month’s highlights.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.