Video: How Mars Looked 4 Billion Years Ago

Filled with idyllic lakes and clouds!

An Ancient, Habitable Mars

Michael Lentz/NASA Goddard Conceptual Image Lab

What would a habitable, watery Mars look like? Four billion years ago, the dry, dusty planet may have had enough of an atmosphere to support bodies of water. Perhaps it looked like this beautiful, cloud-covered lake scene that animators at NASA's Conceptual Image Lab imagine in their latest video.

The animation, which NASA says is one of the most complex it has ever produced, was created with the help of the scientists working on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which launches Nov. 18 from Cape Canaveral. MAVEN will study how the climate on Mars has changed over time by looking at the gases in its upper atmosphere.

Take a look. Go soaring across the ancient Martian landscape accompanied by what sounds like the soundtrack to an epic fantasy movie, flying over lakes (which may have existed on a young, thick-atmosphered Mars) and mountainous canyons, and watch as it slowly transforms into the red, rocky planet we've come to know today.