I was watching this slideshow of 4K images of the surface of Mars, and I noticed that the surface looked mostly smooth, with the most rugged features being crater impacts (sort of resembling an Earth desert). That got me thinking, would the Earth, if water never were on it, look like Mars does now?

I know that water is responsible for some major features on the surface of Earth, such as The Grand Canyon. I know that Earth's tectonic plates were responsible for another part of our features, i.e. Mount Everest (although the largest mountain in our solar system, (Olympus Mons) is on Mars). I know that Mars, although technically having tectonic plates, has not seen a lot of tectonic activity 'recently'.

With all of that in mind, would Mars be a good approximation of Earth without water?

Edit: Upon doing more research, water has been on Mars. My question therefore may be better asked: Would Mars be a good approximation of Earth with little to no water, or if water were to somehow disappear for an extended period of time?

  • $\begingroup$ It would have a lot more air. $\endgroup$ Jul 24 '20 at 20:56

Quite possibly

Upon learning that Mars did have surface water at some point, you have updated your question to ask if Mars would be a good approximation for Earth if Earth had little to no water, or if the water had been missing for a period of time. Conversely, try looking at areas of the Earth that have had little to no water, or where the water has been missing for a period of time: Southern Utah.

Southern Utah is often used for Earth-based simulations of Martian Terrain, as it is similar: Large rocks worn smooth by blowing sand, canyons formed by long-ago rivers, "marbles" similar to the "blueberries" found on Mars. Several organizations use Southern Utah as a Mars simulator: The Mars Desert Research Station and University Rover Challenge are both run by the Mars Society, and I believe NASA has conducted some experiments there as well.


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