Mars' Vast Ocean: New Theory On History of Red Planet

Mars is traditionally imagined as a dusty red ball adrift in the Milky Way. New findings however, may suggest that a vast ocean may have at one time occupied much of the Red Planet's surface.

The planet Mars has always held a particular point of interest to Earth's human inhabitants. During the right time of the year, Mars is visible via the naked human eye. Given the relative proximity of the planet, one would assume man's knowledge of Mars is rather expansive. Speculation and imagination rather than proven fact seem to play more of a rule in humans' perceptions of Mars, however.

Mankind's perception of Mars most often centers around an assumed sense of harshness, as evidenced by numerous Hollywood movies focusing on the idea of failed extraterrestrial colonies or an invading species. Even the name of the planet itself is derived from a Greek-turned-Roman deity known for his aggression and love of all things war. What's more, Mars' trademark color hue, red, is the color most often associated with anger and hostility.

Greek-turned-Roman god Mars

These dusty and harsh assumptions about Mars may not be entirely based in reality, however. According to new scientific findings, Mars may have at one point had a vast ocean.

Mars' Vast Ocean
NASA: Oceanic Mars

In a March 5 report published by NASA, it is stated that new evidence suggests that at one point, Mars may have had enough water to cover its entire surface in 450 feet of water. What NASA's reports suggest as more likely, however, is the notion that the water was concentrated into one large ocean.

NASA's report gives an estimate as to the approximate size of the rumored Martian ocean.

"... the water would have formed an ocean occupying almost half of Mars' northern hemisphere, in some regions reaching depths greater than a mile (1.6 kilometers)."
To put the above referenced estimated oceanic size into perspective, the Guardian stated that Mars' ocean would cover proportionately the same amount of Mars' surface as the Atlantic Ocean does Earth's surface.

The idea of Mars at one time playing home to such a large body of water certainly contradicts many science-fiction based fables. The possible discovery of such a large and expansive former ocean on the surface of Mars reminds man that he must be careful in his galactic assumptions.

[Featured Image credit to messagetoeagle, Body Image 1 credit to Nick Thompson via Flickr, Body Image 2 credit to NASA]