No, this isn't Earth or an artistic rendering of some far away exoplanet. It's Mars — but a hypothetical version of the Red Planet after it's undergone a rather radical facelift.


The video was put together by software engineer Kevin Gill who simply wanted to know what a terraformed Mars might look like (and to test some rendering software he was working on). Because he defaulted to Earth-based time, each frame represents about a minute in length as the planet completes a 24-hour daily rotation (which isn't too far off, as the Martian day is 24 hours and 37 minutes).

Gil spoke to Nancy Atkinson of Universe Today to explain how he did the animation:

The base two dimensional elevation model was generated using data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter aboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft and satellite imagery from the Blue Marble Next Generation project. Sea level was set non-scientifically, but such that it would flood much of Valles Marineris as well as provide shoreline near the cliffs on the outer edges of Olympus Mons. The clouds are straight from NASA’s Blue Marble NG project and height mapped (rather arbitrarily, but looks good) by relative opacity (The more opaque a point, the higher up in the atmosphere I put it). This was rendered using a digital elevation modeling program I am writing, jDem846, with some extras baked in through its scripting interface, and encoded to video with ffmpeg.


Read more at Universe Today.

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