Probe captures rare aurora covering half of Mars

(ORDO NEWS) — The UAE’s Hope Probe, hovering over Mars, captured a unique event as the aurora spread over the planet.

The probe, which has been orbiting Mars for more than a year, captured the stunning auroras normally seen on Earth in the planet’s atmosphere.

Although the auroras may seem similar to those seen on Earth, they are quite different. The Martian auroras are so large that they extend around the Red Planet.

The never-before-seen phenomenon, dubbed the tortuous discrete aurora, consists of long, worm-like bands of energetic electron emission in the upper atmosphere.

Emirates Mars mission scientists said the probe observed auroras that span several thousand kilometers from the day side to the night side of Mars.

“When we first imaged the discrete aurora of Mars in 2021, we knew we had unlocked a new potential for observations that had never been possible before at this scale,” said mission scientist Hessa Al Matrushi.

Probe captures rare aurora covering half of Mars 2
Aurora, photographed by the Nadezhda probe / UAE Space Agency

The probe captured a mysterious event when Mars experienced a solar storm effect that resulted in a faster, more turbulent flow of solar wind electrons than usual.

According to astronomers, the auroras have elongated shapes, which could be caused by similarly elongated electron excitation regions in the magnetotail.

Over the years, spacecraft have recorded two other types of auroras around Mars, observed during intense solar storms, when interaction with particles causes the atmosphere to glow around the entire planet.

Meanwhile, the discrete auroras are highly localized and are believed to be associated with non-uniform magnetic fields created by magnetized minerals found in the Martian crust.


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