Mysterious green night glow over Mars spotted for the first time – and it could help future space explorers navigate

0


IMAGINE your first night on Mars and seeing what should be a pitch-black sky awash with green.

It sounds straight out of a science fiction novel, but it’s not.

2

Future Mars explorers may be able to use the glow to see and navigate the Red Planet’s poles at nightCredit: ESA
The glow is similar to the Aurora Borealis on Earth - albeit a lot less dazzling - and was first spotted by the ESA's Mars Express Mission in 2003

2

The glow is similar to the Aurora Borealis on Earth – albeit a lot less dazzling – and was first spotted by the ESA’s Mars Express Mission in 2003Credit: ESA

While it’s distinctively known as the Red Planet, scientists have discovered that the sky glows green at night.

It’s no Martian mystery, either.

According to experts at the European Space Agency (ESA) and the University of Liège, the nightglow appears as a result of a chemical reaction in the atmosphere.

It means future Mars explorers may be able to use the glow to see and navigate the Red Planet’s poles at night.

“When future astronauts explore Mars’s polar regions, they will see a green glow lighting up the night sky,” the ESA wrote.

“For the first time, a visible nightglow has been detected in the martian atmosphere by ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) mission.”

The glow is similar to the Aurora Borealis on Earth – albeit a lot less dazzling – and was first spotted by the ESA’s Mars Express Mission in 2003.

“These observations are unexpected and interesting for future trips to the Red Planet,” said Jean-Claude Gérard, planetary scientist at the University of Liège and lead author of the new study published in Nature Astronomy.

In 2020, NASA’s ‘MAVEN’ orbiter pictured signs of the eerie phenomenon in Mars’ upper atmosphere.

At the time, scientists didn’t think it would be visible to humans.

But recent findings suggest otherwise.

“Under clear skies, the glow could be bright enough for humans to see by and for rovers to navigate in the dark nights,” added Gérard.

“Nightglow is also observed on Earth.

“On Mars it was something expected, yet never observed in visible light until now.

“These observations are unexpected and interesting for future trips to the Red Planet.”

Nightglow is a relatively common phenomenon in the atmospheres of the Solar System.

While fairly common on Earth, Venus and Jupiter have their own infrared and ultraviolet lights that appear at night.

Find out more about science

Want to know more about the weird and wonderful world of science? From the Moon to the human body, we have you covered…





Source link

Denial of responsibility! Planetconcerns is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a comment