|Surface: Mars is covered with a thin layer of radioactive substances|
including uranium, thorium and radioactive potassium
At least that is the theory proposed by a scientist who has discovered a reason as to how the red planet got its rosy colour.
According to Dr John Brandednberg, about 180 million years ago, a planet-shattering yet naturally occurring nuclear reaction may have wiped out everything on Mars, sending a shockwave that turned the planet into dry sand.
He told Fox News: 'The Martian surface is covered with a thin layer of radioactive substances including uranium, thorium and radioactive potassium - and this pattern radiates from a hot spot on Mars.
'A nuclear explosion could have sent debris all around the planet.
'Maps of gamma rays on Mars show a big red spot that seems like a radiating debris pattern ... on the opposite side of the planet there is another red spot.'
Dr Brandenburg, who is a senior propulsion scientist at Orbital Technologies Corp, said the natural explosion - the equivalent of one million one-megaton hydrogen bombs - occurred in the northern Mare Acidalium region of Mars where there is a heavy concentration of radioactivity.
This explosion also filled the Martian atmosphere with radio-isotopes, which are seen in recent gamma ray spectrometry data taken by NASA, he said.
The radioactivity also explains why the planet looks red.
Dr Brandenburg believes that a natural nuclear reaction could have occurred on our own planet - and could happen again.
Dr David Beaty, Mars programme science manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told FoxNews.com that he finds the idea intriguing and fascinating.
But he said to prove the science, the agency would need to plan a mission to explore Mare Acidalium on Mars.