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What Would New York City Look Like On Another Planet?

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[Click to expand and for captions; all photos by Nickolay Lamm.]

Nickolay Lamm has taken images of New York city's skyline and doctored them to imagine what would happen if sea levels started to rise and if the whole metropolis were dropped down in North Korea. Now Lamm has consulted with astrobiology Ph.D.-holder/ former NASA employee/university professor M. Browning Vogel to redirect his Photoshop skills towards a new project?envisioning what New York would look like if it were blanketed by the atmospheres of other planets in the solar system. Each one took two to three hours to make, he says, and the whole out-there (get it?) thing was inspired by thinking about the uninhabitable environs of Mars' Mount Sharp.

Now, reality-obsessed New Yorkers, remember to suspend your disbelief as you scroll through the photo gallery above. Our spindly skyscrapers were probably not built to withstand things like Mars' dust storms, Jupiter's toxic clouds, or Neptune's bone-chilling winds, but the apocalyptic renderings Lamm has created (originally for StorageFront.com) are cool conversation-starters nonetheless. Any astronomers want to comment on their accuracy?

Here are slightly abbreviated versions of Vogel's descriptions of the seven planets from the Sun on outwards (oh, poor lost Pluto), which Lamm followed to the letter when creating his illustrations. Note that the cityscapes on Neptune and Uranus, as well as Jupiter and Saturn, look somewhat similar because their atmospheres are comparable:

Mercury: The inexorable solar wind continually strips the planet of any gases that might be captured or retained by gravity. The tenuous atmosphere consists primarily of hydrogen making the atmosphere transparent to the darkness of space and the withering radiance of the nearby Sun. The solar wind interacts with the planet's magnetic field to blast columns of dust and charged particles up into the atmosphere that then become a comet-like tail, evident as the sparkling haze shown in the upper atmosphere. The landscape is perforated with impact craters and covered in volcanic dust, similar to Earth's moon.

Venus: Due to its prolific volcanic activity, Venus is blanketed in an atmosphere of carbon dioxide with clouds of sulfuric acid. This creates a yellowish envelope of hot, sulfurous air that obscures the NYC skyline and the nearby sun. The landscape is devoid of water and covered by craters, lava, sulfurous dust and other features created by Venus' volcanoes.

Mars: Mars has an exceedingly thin and cold atmosphere composed primarily of carbon dioxide. Mars' atmosphere has an oxidizing chemistry that converts the abundant iron materials on its surface into various forms of rust, evident as the tawny landscape. Strong convective currents in the atmosphere also stir up frequent dust storms that can cover vast expanses of the planet and last for months. The NYC skyline is thus caked in dust and framed in Mars' dusty red atmosphere.

Jupiter: Jupiter is the largest of the outer gas giant planets. Its atmosphere is so large and thick that the hydrogen and helium gas components condense into liquid and even metallic form near the base of the atmosphere. At around 100 kilometers above this liquid surface, the air has a similar air pressure to Earth's atmosphere at the surface, but has a reducing chemistry that would burnish any metal surface, including that of the Statue of Liberty. The NYC skyline is depicted at this 100-kilometer level, floating in the atmosphere. This area of Jupiter's sky is a vast body of clear gaseous hydrogen. NYC is nestled between Jupiter's clouds of water, ammonia and sulfurous gases (sallow clouds below) that sometimes converge into powerful thunderstorms (seen erupting below). Above the skyline hangs a yellow haze of hydrocarbons.

Saturn: Saturn has a similar atmosphere to that of Jupiter, containing a mixture of hydrogen and helium that condense at the base of the atmosphere. NYC is shown at about 100 kilometers above this liquid surface, where the clear hydrogen resides at similar pressures to Earth's atmosphere and contains soft cream-colored clouds of ammonia ice with occasional thunderstorms (shown below the cloud deck). As with Jupiter, the atmospheric gases are highly reducing and would slowly dissolve any metal oxide surface like the green patina that covers the Statue of Liberty. White clouds of ammonia and light hydrocarbons float by above the skyline.

Uranus: Uranus is a cold gas giant that rotates perpendicular to the plane of its orbit. It has very high winds speeds at certain latitudes due to the uneven heating of its surface. These winds are faster than the most powerful hurricane on Earth and would thus obliterate structures like the Statue of Liberty. The atmosphere is primarily composed of hydrogen and helium with occasional clouds of methane and bands of hydrocarbon haze, shown as the horse tail clouds above the skyline. The atmosphere also contains a considerable fraction of methane, giving the air a beautiful aquamarine tint.

Neptune: Neptune is the outermost planet of the solar system and thus the darkest. Like the other gas giants it experiences extreme winds that would destroy buildings and other structures. Neptune's atmosphere consists primarily of hydrogen and helium with traces of ammonia and water, giving it an azure tint. Ammonium and water ice condensate hangs as light-colored cirro-stratus clouds above the skyline. Neptune's atmosphere is the coldest place in the solar system.

That's Earth. Guess we're pretty lucky to live on this one.
· Official site: Nickolay Lamm [nickolaylamm.com]
· New York City With Atmospheres Of Different Planets [StorageFront.com]
· The Statue of Liberty Could Look Like This After Seas Rise [Curbed]
· Nickolay Lamm coverage [Curbed]