Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 26, 2012

Layered Hills in the Martian Sea of Arabia
Layered Hills in the Martian Sea of Arabia

Credits: Marco Faccin/Lunar Explorer Italia/Italian Planetary Foundation - Inset Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Is it possible that these Layered Hills, located in the Martian Region of Arabia Terra (and visible - as they appear today - in the inset NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter frame, on the lower left of the main picture), once were (relatively) small Islands, forming some kind of Archipelago in a Sea that now does not exist anymore?


Maybe. And based on this "maybe", we wish to show you, in today's APOD, what we like to call a "Martian Fantasy", such as a reconstruction (better yet: a computer simulation, based on true Surface Features) of what the rocky and dusty Martian Reality of today, could have been a few millions of years ago. Or, once again maybe, only a few thousands of years ago. As a matter of fact, many Scientists believe that Mars, in a far distant past, was a Planet capable to host Lakes, Rivers and Seas. And the remnants of those Lakes, Rivers and Seas, today, are just empty Impact Craters with - often - large Dunefields that cover most of their Floors; sinuous dried and rocky Channels or Valles - that once were, most likely, impressive Rivers - and, last but not least, dusty Planitiae - such as relatively Flat Lands which once might have been covered by waters, pehaps shallow waters, like the well known Region of Meridiani Planitia, "home" of the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.


We, as IPF, believe, according to the abovementioned "vision", that Mars, once was a Planet very similar to our own Mother Planet: the Earth. What kind of Planetary Catastrophy is really happened to Mars, and (probably in a relatively quick way) turned it into a "dead" (well, let's just say "almost" dead...) Celestial Body, we do not know. Actually, nobody does. But we are looking for answers and, in time, we believe that some of these answers will come. Furthermore, during this (probably neverending) search, we also like to use, some time, a little bit of our imagination, and so (of course without incurring in any excess) we tried, try and will always try to see, by using in the most proper way this wonderful human capacity to imagine and daydream, what could really lie over and beyond all the data and the "raw scientific material" that, on a daily base, Orbiters, Rovers and other Technological Wonders keep sending to us.


Why to do so? First, because Science, in order to exist, does not only require quite a few skills, some specific competence and a lot of pragmatism, but it also needs a little bit of Fantasy. And second, because only a Scientist that is capable of fantasizing, at least once in a while, can really become, in time, a true "Man of Science".



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