Scientists have captured auroras in the Martian sky and they are spectacular
Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 30 April 2022, at 12:13 pm Los Angeles time
Mysterious northern lights appeared in the Martian sky and were observed by Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) samples, reports Zeenews India.
Auroras are a phenomenon found on our planet, the internet being full of images with these spectacular lights from our atmosphere.
Well, the images on Mars are definitely great too.
"When we first imaged Mars' discrete aurora shortly after the Hope probe's arrival at Mars in 2021, we knew we had unveiled new potential to make observations never before possible on this scale, and we took the decision to increase our focus on these auroras," said EMM Science Lead, Hessa Al Matroushi. "We can obtain nearly whole-disk, synoptic snapshots of the atmosphere to investigate atmospheric phenomena and interactions. It means we are seeing discrete auroral effects on a massive scale and in ways we never anticipated," Matroushi continued.
As can be seen in the pictures, the aurora stretched for thousands of miles.
This happened during a solar storm that hit Mars, slightly disrupting the upper atmosphere, where energized electrons formed these spectacular streaks of the aurora.
In addition that the aurora stretched over a large part of the Martian sky, it was also very bright, the solar wind bringing a lot of electrons with a very fast flow and much more disturbing than usual according to EMM data.
"Having additional bandwidth and resources available to us meant we could be opportunistic and focus more on the area of discrete auroras than we had originally planned," said Omran Sharaf, EMM project director.
The spectacular phenomenon on Mars was captured using Hope's EMUS (The Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer) instrument ranging between 90-180 nanometer (nm) wavelengths announces EMM.
According to scientists, the aurora was at approx. 130 km above the Martian surface, where electrons brought by the solar wind collide with the electric fields in the magnetosphere of Mars.
"The sinuous discrete aurora was a shocking discovery that in many ways has us scratching our heads and going back to the drawing board. We have ideas, but no solid explanation for why we are observing intense aurora of this shape and at planetary scales," said Rob Lillis, EMUS team member at the University of California, Berkeley, US.
"We now have the opportunity to re-examine prior observations of Mars by missions such as MAVEN and Mars Express to search for signatures that could flesh out Hope's new observations and perhaps help us try and unpick quite what is happening here," Lillis said in the statement.