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The invisible auroras on Mars come alive in NASA’s new animations



The sky on Mars is blown around by ultraviolet light as it travels across the red planet. The phenomenon is similar to the Earth’s aurora event, which lasts from sunset until midnight, and NASA created a new animation using data obtained from an engine aboard the MAVEN spacecraft. to demonstrate what it looks like to future astronauts in orbit. That is, that’s what they would have seen if it weren’t for the naked eye.

“Ultraviolet light comes mainly from an altitude of about 70 kilometers (about 40 miles), with its brightest point about a thousand kilometers (about 600 miles) above, and is as bright in ultraviolet as the northern lights of the Earth, ”Explains Zac Milby, a researcher at the University of Colorado̵

7;s Space and Atmospheric Physics Laboratory (LASP).

This is an image of ultraviolet “night light” in the Martian atmosphere. The pseudo-green and white colors represent the intensity of ultraviolet rays, of which white is the brightest. (Supplier: NASA / MAVEN / Goddard Space Flight Center / CU / LASP)

Milby is one of several other LASP scientists to have published a recent study on ‘night light’ data in the journal JGR Space Physics. The team analyzed two-year valuable images of Mars taken by the Ultraviolet Spectrophotometer (IUVS) aboard the Mars’ Atmospheric and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission spacecraft. Fire to detect ultraviolet radiation and wind behavior is reported. “The MAVEN spacecraft orbiting Mars has obtained a new kind of imaging data showing the effects of wind and waves on a global scale in the upper atmosphere,” said the Plain Language Summary of the detailed study.

With the mission to Mars in the short-term travel plans of both NASA and SpaceX, it is essential to learn as much as possible about the planet’s atmosphere. Preparing for both in-situ science and astronaut safety will need to incorporate ground conditions on Mars, so studies like these provide very important and relevant data. . The recent findings also prove the importance of international collaborative efforts in deep space exploration, particularly since MAVEN is not the first spacecraft to prove the existence of the phenomenon of ‘light’. morning and night ‘. Instead, the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbit mission revealed it in 2003, leading the way for further tracking and research.

(Supplier: NASA / MAVEN / Goddard Space Flight Center / CU / LASP)

It may also be interesting to note that although astronauts on Mars may not be able to see the UV aurora type night light with their normal eyesight, the tools can be utilized to overcome those limitations. For example, we already have commercial UV cameras on Earth. There’s even an add-on to the UV camera smartphone that one can see being used on Mars to watch the glow show in a similar way to the augmented reality star finders on the market. school.

Of course, the more science-oriented UV camera will likely accompany any visitor to the planet, but it’s interesting to imagine what might be available to more types of travelers or even Colonists on Mars one day.

You can watch NASA’s animated video of the UV night wind on Mars below:

The invisible auroras on Mars come alive in NASA’s new animations