Living Mars: Kevin Gill's Concept Images Show Red Planet Teeming With Life

This is Mars - as you've never seen it before.

An incredible new set of visualisations has imagined what Mars would look like were it transformed into a 'living' planet, complete with oceans and forests.

The possibility of terraforming the Red Planet has been a staple of science fiction - and occassionally fanciful science fact - for years. But never before has a realistic picture of a 'living' Mars been produced.

Software engineer Kevin Gill made these new beautiful concept pictures, inspired in part by Nasa's recent 'Blue Marble' composite photos of Earth.

Using detailed maps of the topography of Mars, he worked out the likely places where islands, mountains and different types of vegetation might thrive on the changed surface, based on their height, temperature and proximity to water.

But Gill admits they are a work of imagination as much as science, and said the terrain was exaggerated.

"This wasn't intended as an exhaustive scientific scenario as I'm sure (and expect) some of my assumptions will prove incorrect. I'm hoping at least to trigger the imagination, so please enjoy!" he said on Google+.

"This is a view of the Western hemisphere with Olympus Mons on the horizon beyond the Tharsis Montes volcanoes and the Valles Marineris canyons near the center. The height of the clouds and atmosphere are largely arbitrary and set for the sake of appearance and coverage over the exaggerated terrain elevations (~10 times elevation exaggeration). The eye is about 10,000 km (~6,200 miles) from the surface."

The images were warmly received online, including by SpaceX founder and billionaire Elon Musk - who has previously stated his intention to one day attempt to colonise the planet.

Alas, any plans to "terraform" Mars are still firmly in the realm of science fiction. For now...