Viral Mars Conspiracy Theory Video Claims Humans Lived on Mars, Destroyed it in Nuclear War

A video in which a TikTok user claims humans once lived on Mars but rendered it uninhabitable in a nuclear war has gone viral.

The false but entertaining theory also states this war would have caused a nuclear winter which is responsible for Mars' popular red colour. It has currently been liked more than 230,000 times and shared nearly 10,000 times. It has been watched around 979,200 times.

The theory, explained by user crackheadjoedirt, was put forward in response to the question "what's a conspiracy theory that absolutely blows your mind" by another user.

Crackheadjoedirt states: "Mars isn't naturally red. Want to know what can cause a planet to turn red and change after a couple of a million years?

"If enough nukes were to go off on a planet the first thing that would happen is a nuclear winter. A nuclear winter is an aftermath of nuclear blasts causing ash that is so thick that it blocks out the sunlight.

"Nuclear winters can last anywhere between 100 years and a thousand depending on how much ash is in the atmosphere."

"After all the natural resources are drained up from the nuclear winter, the planet turns red from dust. My theory is that we've come from Mars after we drained all of its natural resources and destroyed it with nuclear bombs."

The user states Mars once had natural resources such as water, since scientists believe the planet once had flowing water on its surface billions of years ago.

This is where the theory falls apart, however, since the time scale in question is billions of years and not the mere hundreds or thousands it would allegedly take for a nuclear winter to clear up. It is unclear where this nuclear winter figure is from.

A study published in the journal Science on March 16 this year states the current volume of water on Mars was reached around three billion years ago. Humans capable of walking on two legs only emerged around four million years ago, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The study also states Mars' water loss could be due to two factors: water being lost to space due to atmospheric escape, and water being essentially absorbed into rocks where much of it remains.

So why is Mars red?

Mars has its signature red color because the Martian surface is essentially covered in rust, also known as iron oxide, and not nuclear waste.

The sky also appears to have a pink or light orange coloration because these particles of rust are blown into the atmosphere with the wind.

NASA scientists think the reason Mars is covered in iron oxide and the Earth is not may be to do with the fact that Mars is smaller than Earth and has weaker gravity.

When the planets were forming, much of Earth's iron sank down into its core, but on Mars it was allowed to remain more spread out because of this weaker gravitational force, according to Space.

An older report from the journal Nature in 2004 states that, similarly, temperatures in the early Earth billions of years ago were high enough to melt iron oxide and allow this to sink into our planet's core.

On Mars, the temperatures weren't hot enough for this to happen, leaving the iron oxide up near the surface.

"I do not know of any other explanation for Mars's rustiness," said John Murray, a planetary scientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes in the UK, at the time.

This article has been updated to include a quote from the TikTok user and to show how many times the video was viewed.

Artist's impression of Mars
A stock image shown an artist's impression of Mars. The planet's red colour actually comes from huge amounts of iron oxide in the surface. Petmal/iStock