Software engineer Kevin Gill turned the Red Planet into its own version of the Earth. He’s now created an animation showing a rotating Mars and compressed 24 hours to one minute.
Kevin explains 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. Because I defaulted to Earth-based time, each frame is about one minute in time over twenty-four hours.
This is a fun and thought-provoking look at what Mars may have looked in the past … or if things had worked out just a little differently in our Solar System, or for the Red Planet!
Sources: Universetoday, NASA/JPL