Newly discovered glow of the Martian atmosphere defies simple explanation

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists on the Mars mission launched by the United Arab Emirates spotted a serpentine-shaped airglow that stretched over half of the Red Planet’s surface.

This discovery of “ripple discrete” airglow, which has been observed high in the atmosphere and is the result of the interaction of solar radiation with magnetic fields, was made using the Hope orbiter, which has been operating in orbit since February 2021.

The intensity of the magnetic The field of Mars is largely inhomogeneous, and in some places there is no field at all, so tracking the airglow on this planet is difficult.

The Hope probe has previously been used to observe local and nocturnal forms of airglow (diffuse and discrete auroras) that have not previously been observed by other missions.

But all other types of airglow are not comparable in scale to these new undulating discrete aurorae, which cover about half of the planet’s surface area.

Observations on such a large scale required the use of the Hope probe’s unique ability to capture images of the entire disk of Martian thin atmosphere and track its dynamics, project officials said.

“We are seeing the impact of discrete auroras on a global scale in ways we don’t expect,” Hessa Al Matroushi, Hope’s EMM science team leader, said in an emailed statement.

According to the authors, these newly discovered airglow events have a close origin to known diffuse aurorae, which are caused by powerful solar storms, the statement said.

The researchers hope that a deeper understanding of the appearance of wavy discrete auroras and other varieties of atmospheric glow will help in a more detailed study of the solar wind and the influence of Martian magnetism on the planet.

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