WARNING: If you have not seen Star Trek: Picard, please be informed that this post contains very large spoilers for the series.

Early on in the Star Trek: Picard series, we were introduced to the April 5, 2385 attack on Mars in which the Romulans secretly directed the synths to sabotage the Mars defense system and destroy the Utopia Planitia Fleetyards, as well as the rescue fleet being constructed to save the Romulans from their doomed home planet. As summarized by Screen Rant, "The Mars attack was a devastating blow to the United Federation of Planets: on April 5, 2385 (First Contact Day), a group of synthetic workers dropped Mars' planetary defense grid and attacked the red world. Not only was Utopia Planitia destroyed, but the explosions ignited the Martian atmosphere. The fires killed 92,473 people and Mars is still burning 14 years later."

The Synth ships used in the attack fired their phasers on the compound, causing large explosions.

Mars's thin atmosphere doesn't even have enough oxygen to sustain a candle. It would be surprising if Mars could support a spark, much less a raging, planet-wide fire.

Stars are able to "burn" hydrogen to helium without oxygen, but this involves a nuclear reaction, not a chemical one.

Is this then suggesting that the synth attack triggered a planet-wide atmospheric nuclear eruption? Then how could we explain that the "fires" burned constantly for 14 years or more?

  • 5
    Was Mars terraformed? Oct 26, 2021 at 4:40
  • 4
    Oxygen is only half the problem. A fire requires an oxidizer and fuel. What is the atmosphere is supposed to burn?
    – JRE
    Oct 26, 2021 at 11:37
  • @JRE Maybe some sort of fusion reaction? But I don't think a sustained reaction would be possible. Might be a good question for Physics SE Oct 27, 2021 at 3:54

1 Answer 1


According to Memory Alpha, Mars was at least partially terraformed, and humans could apparently

roam freely without heavy environmental suits

So there appears to have been more oxygen than there is now in real life.

As JRE points out, besides oxygen you also need fuel. According to this dialogue clip on YouTube from Star Trek: Picard episode 1x01 Remembrance (as written down in this Memory Alpha article), the event

ignited the flammable vapors in the stratosphere

Note that I did not actually watch the specific Enterprise episodes (Demons, Terra Prime) mentioned

  • "Flammable vapors?" Was this because we put them there to terraform Mars, or did they leak from the exploding compound? Oct 26, 2021 at 22:12
  • @SovereignInquiry the episode does not specify that, so in my opinion we can't know
    – dennis_vok
    Oct 27, 2021 at 6:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.