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Mars Space Science

Blue, Not Red: Did Ancient Mars Look Like This? 75

astroengine writes "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.' He included oceans, lakes, clouds and a biosphere — a view of a hypothetical ancient Mars that looks wonderfully like home."
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Blue, Not Red: Did Ancient Mars Look Like This?

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  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @05:49AM (#42473345) Homepage

    People seem to forget that after its formation the sun was somewhat LESS bright than it is now so Mars would have been even colder in its current orbit. If there ever was large amounts of water on Mars I suspect that it would have spent most of its time locked up as ice sheets with the occasional melting due to impacts. Pretty much the way it is today.

    All this warm wet life on mars stuff strikes me as nothing more than wish fulfillment - the same way people used to imagine Venus was a tropical paradise. Until the probes went there and proved those predictions to be some of the worst ever made in astronomical science.

  • Also the moon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by david.given ( 6740 ) <> on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:34AM (#42473681) Homepage Journal

    I've been (very slowly) doing something a bit similar with the moon --- see here [] --- although differently; I've been trying to render everything and producing ground-level views rather than producing a painted sphere like TFA. (His looks better from a distance. Mine looks better close up.) I've been trying to use procedural texturing and atmospheric effects. The pictures above are rather out of date; rendering your own from SVN will look better.

    Unfortunately rendering things the size of planets from very close up runs into big problems with floating point precision. The only renderer I've found which will do it at all is Povray, and even then there are loads of bugs --- volumetric effects for things like clouds is well buggered at this sort of scale. See this picture [] for an example. Plus Povray's is really slow at procedural surfaces.

    Right now I really need to start again from scratch using higher-resolution terrain and gravity data from some of the recent lunar probes, and I also probably want to switch to a different renderer which works at higher precision. Any suggestions of a fast raytracer that does procedural isosurfaces, volumetric effects and works at double precision will be gratefully appreciated...

    I will also share this test render [] with you, which I think is delightfully surreal...

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger