Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Oceans of Mars

Kenneth Field has updated his beautiful topographical map of Mars. (Is There) Life on Mars now includes the option to add lakes, seas and oceans and turn the red planet partly green (read the 'details' for an explanation as to why water on Mars wouldn't appear blue)).

The map's new water layer allows you to add water to the surface of Mars based on the planet's elevation data. You've probably seen this kind of responsive water layer before on sea level maps of the Earth, such as Climate Central's Surging Seas map.

Maps like Surging Seas simulate the likely consequences of global warning on Earth's sea levels. While the temperature on Mars can reach as high as 70 degrees Fahrenheit (at the equator on a Martian summer day) there is presently little danger of the north polar ice cap melting (Mars would need a far denser atmosphere and higher surface temperatures).

However the new water layer on Kenneth's Mars map is an interesting way to visualize elevation data on Mars. You can use the different water levels to visualize different elevations on the map below Mars' 'sea level'. And who knows, maybe in a few millennium, we might be using a similar map in our efforts to terraform Mars.

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