Why is Mars surrounded by a green glow in recent NASA images?

(ORDO NEWS) — How did it happen that the red Mars in NASA images suddenly turned green? Scientists explain that these images are the result of long-term observations that will one day lead to answers to many questions. The most important of them is why did Mars become a barren desert?

NASA’s recently released series of images of the planet Mars has caught the attention of social media audiences around the world, as the planet is surrounded by an unusual green halo in the images.

Strange glow

The latest images of Mars are the result of long-term observations from the MAVEN spacecraft, which has been orbiting Mars since 2014. A special camera was used to obtain these images, which captured ultraviolet radiation.

According to data from the spacecraft, the upper atmosphere of Mars turns green three times during the night in spring and autumn, while the poles glow almost all the time throughout the year. This data was confirmed by observations from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft, which is also in Mars orbit.

However, as it turns out, this green glow appearing in the images that have caught the attention of social media users around the world is not real. It reflects only those regions that pulsate in the ultraviolet spectrum on the surface of Mars.

As for the human eye, it records only visible light, and not the entire range, which also includes ultraviolet and infrared light. Scientists are studying the latter in order to be able to understand the nature of the movement and the intensity of these rays.

Nitric oxide

On August 5, a study was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Space Physics that investigated the green glow on Mars and determined the causes of this phenomenon.

As the results of scientific work have shown, the reason for the appearance of an unusual halo is associated with the movement of air currents in the atmosphere of Mars. The sun’s rays penetrate into the planet’s upper atmosphere, which contains carbon dioxide and nitrogen, and these gases break down into individual atoms (carbon, nitrogen and oxygen).

Together with air currents, these atoms move to the lower layers of the atmosphere of Mars and combine. As a result of chemical reactions between them, the so-called nitric oxide (NO) is produced, which pulses in the ultraviolet spectrum.

This glow helps scientists from the US space agency to study more deeply the movement of air currents in the upper atmosphere of Mars, which will one day provide answers to many questions. The most important of them sounds like this – why did Mars turn into a barren desert, although it once had an abundance of water and other sources of life?


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