NEW YORK, BRONX (ORDO News) — ESA‘s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has made a revolutionary discovery in the Martian atmosphere – a green night glow. This phenomenon, distinct from an aurora, not only provides crucial data on atmospheric processes, but also has the potential to illuminate future missions to Mars.
A significant development was the detection of visible nightglow in the Martian atmosphere by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) spacecraft. This means that in the future, when astronauts explore the polar regions of Mars, they will be able to see a mesmerizing green glow lighting up the night sky.
The glow is expected to be bright enough to be perceived by human eyes and for rovers to navigate during dark Martian nights. Although nightglow is a well-known phenomenon on Earth, it has not yet been observed in visible light on Mars.
The Martian nightglow occurs when two oxygen atoms combine to form an oxygen molecule about 50 km above the planet’s surface. The oxygen atoms’ journey begins on the dayside of Mars, where sunlight charges carbon dioxide molecules, causing them to break apart.
As the oxygen atoms move to the night side and lose their excitation from the Sun, they regroup and emit light at a lower altitude, creating a nightglow.
Scientists believe that the formation of oxygen night glow on Mars occurs according to a certain pattern. When solar ultraviolet radiation exceeds an altitude of 70 km, carbon dioxide molecules in the Martian atmosphere are broken down into carbon monoxide and oxygen atoms.
These oxygen atoms are carried by a massive Hadley cell, which has an ascending branch over the daytime summer pole and a descending branch over the winter pole located in the night hemisphere.
In the descending branch of the Hadley cell, at an altitude of 30-50 km, oxygen atoms recombine into molecular oxygen, emitting infrared radiation.
The discovery of a green nightglow on Mars has far-reaching implications for future missions to the Red Planet.
The illumination created by the nightglow can be bright enough to guide astronauts and rovers as they explore the polar regions of Mars.
Jean-Claude Gerard, lead author of the study and a planetary scientist at the University of Liege, called the observations “unexpected and interesting” for future missions to Mars.
Lauriane Soret, a researcher at the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Planetary Physics at the University of Liege, emphasizes the significance of this emission: “This radiation is due to the recombination of oxygen atoms formed in the summer atmosphere and transported by winds to high winter latitudes, to an altitude of 40-60 km in the Martian atmosphere. atmosphere.”
This new understanding of Martian nightglow adds another layer to our knowledge of the planet’s atmospheric processes.
Night glow is observed not only on Mars, but also on Earth. In 2011, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) captured a stunning image of airglow above the curve of the Earth.
Airglow, like nightglow, occurs as a result of the interaction of sunlight with atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The image shows a green band of oxygen glow, giving a glimpse into the beauty of the Earth’s atmospheric phenomena.
News agencies contributed to this report, edited and published by ORDO News editors.
Contact us: [email protected]
To eliminate any confusion arising from different time zones and daylight saving changes, all times displayed on our platforms are in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).