Does a Red Planet Have Green Auroras?

277 views Leave a comment

Martian auroras will never best a manifest fame of those we see on Earth, though have no doubt. The Red Planet still has what it takes to chuck an auroral bash. Witness a latest news from NASA’s MAVEN windy probe. 

A pleasing screen of auroral rays spreads opposite a northern sky final night (May 12) as seen from Duluth, Minn. Aurora colors on Earth are caused by a excitation of nitrogen and oxygen atoms by high-speed particles in a solar wind. Oxygen in sold is obliged for many of a aurora’s greens and reds. Credit: Bob King

A pleasing screen of auroral rays spreads opposite a northern sky final night (May 12) as seen from Duluth, Minn. Aurora colors on Earth are caused by a excitation of nitrogen and oxygen atoms by high-speed particles in a solar wind. Oxygen in sold is obliged for many of a aurora’s greens and reds. Credit: Bob King

In Dec 2014, it rescued widespread auroras opposite Mars’ northern hemisphere dubbed a “Christmas Lights”. If a identical arrangement happened on Earth, northern lights would have been manifest from as distant south as Florida.

“It unequivocally is amazing,” says Nick Schneider who leads MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument group during a University of Colorado.  “Auroras on Mars seem to be some-more far-reaching trimming than we ever imagined.”

Earth’s  magnetosphere, an area of space that’s tranquil by a planet’s captivating field, guides solar breeze electrons and protons along captivating margin lines into a atmosphere in a frigid regions  to emanate auroras. The planet’s margin is combined by electric currents generated in a outdoor nickel-iron core. Credits: NASA

Earth’s magnetosphere, an area of space that’s tranquil by a planet’s captivating field, guides solar breeze electrons and protons along captivating margin lines into a atmosphere in a frigid regions to emanate auroras. The planet’s margin is combined by electric currents generated in a outdoor nickel-iron core.
Credits: NASA

Study a map and you’ll see a purple arcs extend to south of 30° north latitude. So what would Martian auroras demeanour like to a tellurian eye? Would we see an arcade of nested arcs if we faced easterly or west from 30°N? Well, er, yes, if we could see into a ultraviolet finish of a spectrum. Mars’ atmosphere is stoical mostly of CO dioxide, so many of a auroral emissions start when high speed solar breeze particles ionize CO2 molecules and CO monoxide to furnish UV light. Perhaps scrupulously suited-up bees, that can see ultraviolet, would be abuzz during a sight.

Using a  Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS), MAVEN available countless auroras in Dec 2014. The map shows that a halo was widespread in a northern hemisphere, not tied to any geographic location. The halo was seen in all observations during a 5-day period. Credit: University of Colorado

Using a Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS), MAVEN available countless auroras in Dec 2014. The map shows that a halo was widespread in a northern hemisphere, not tied to any geographic location. The halo was seen in all observations during a 5-day period. Credit: University of Colorado

That’s not a finish of a story however. Martian atmosphere does enclose 0.13% oxygen, a component that puts a immature and red in Earth’s auroras. The “Christmas Lights” penetrated deeply into Mars’ atmosphere, reaching an altitude of only 62 miles (100 km) above a surface. Here, a atmosphere is comparatively thicker and richer in oxygen than aloft up, so maybe, only maybe Christmas came in immature wrapping.

High-speed particles from a Sun, mostly electrons, strike oxygen and nitrogen atoms in Earth’s top atmosphere. As they lapse to their “relaxed” state, they evacuate light in evil colors. Credit: NASA

High-speed particles from a Sun, mostly electrons, strike oxygen and nitrogen atoms in Earth’s top atmosphere. As they lapse to their “relaxed” state, they evacuate light in evil colors. Credit: NASA

Nick Schneider, who leads MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument team, isn’t certain though thinks it’s probable that a disband immature heat could seem in Mars’ sky during quite enterprising solar storms.

Mars has magnetized rocks in a membrane that emanate localized, sketchy captivating fields (left). In a painting during right, we see how those fields extend into space above a rocks. At their “peaks”, auroras can form. Credit: NASA

Mars has magnetized rocks in a membrane that emanate localized, sketchy captivating fields (left). In a painting during right, we see how those fields extend into space above a rocks. At their “peaks”, auroras can form. Credit: NASA

While a solar breeze produces auroras during both Earth and Mars, they issue in radically opposite ways. At Earth, we’re ensconced in a protecting planet-wide captivating field. Charged particles from a Sun are guided to a Earth’s poles by following a multi-lane turnpike of  global captivating margin lines.  Mars has no such organized, planet-wide field. Instead, there are many locally captivating regions. Particles nearing from a Sun go where a draw takes them.

“The particles seem to curt into a atmosphere anywhere they want,” says Schneider. “Magnetic fields in a solar breeze furnish opposite Mars, even into a atmosphere, and a charged particles only follow those margin lines down into a atmosphere.”

Maybe one day, NASA or one of a other space agencies will send a lander with a camera that can fire prolonged time exposures during night. We’ll call it a “Go Green” initiative.

Source: Universe Today, created by Bob King