Few planets have been the subject of more intense study than Mars. In spite of these efforts, there is much about our planetary neighbor that remains elusive to us. How, for instance, can we logically account for the volume and depth of various craters and ridges that scar the surface of Mars? So begins the journey of The Lightning-Scarred Planet Mars (second episode from the Symbols of an Alien Sky), a riveting dissection of each prominent formation present on the planet's surface, and theories which propose answers for how they originated.
Once considered a barren wasteland void of any measure of activity, our understanding of the planet Mars has evolved significantly over time. Yet, modern cosmology frequently falls back on antiquated theories when trying to explain the planet's endless grooves, indentations, carvings and gouges. Experts have long held that these imperfections resulted from interactions with assorted asteroids and comets over the course of millions of years. But the specificity of many of these craters - including their oftentimes peculiar shapes, sizes and locations - exclude such a possibility.
As in the first episode of the series, connections are made between our present search for answers and the beliefs of our ancient ancestors who were likely presented with a much more volatile and active celestial landscape. They interpreted these phenomena as the workings of all-powerful gods to whom they regarded with awe-struck reverence. While this thinking may be considered intensely naïve to the scientific culture of today, it could still represent a powerful key to reaching the plausible explanations which continue to mystify us.
Picking up cues from these ancient ancestors, The Lightning-Scarred Planet Mars explores the possibility that this "scarring" could only have been the product of interplanetary electrical discharge, the cosmic thunderbolts of sorts that occur when planets near orbital collision. Authoritatively narrated by comparative mythologist David Talbott, the film presents hypothesis supporting the veracity of this claim, including a series of laboratory tests that supposedly preclude any other conclusions.