This article was published on June 30, 2021

Mars probe captures groundbreaking new images of the red planet’s discrete aurora

The could challenge our ideas about the planet's atmosphere

Mars probe captures groundbreaking new images of the red planet’s discrete aurora

It isn’t only the USA and China that are exploring Mars. The UAE has captured new images of the red planet’s discrete aurora, which could deepen our understanding of the interactions between solar radiation, Mars’ magnetic fields, and the planetary atmosphere.

Up front:  The images were taken by the Mars Hope Probe’s EMUS (Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer) instrument, and show a ghostly glow known as the discrete aurora.

The pictures fully characterize the discrete aurora phenomenon in Mars’ atmosphere for the first time in history. Scientists believe they could challenge the notion that large scale solar events are needed to drive Mars auroral events

“The implications for our understanding of Mars’ atmospheric and magnetospheric science are tremendous and provide new support to the theory that solar storms are not necessary to drive Mars‘ aurora,” said Hessa Al Matroushi, the Emirates Mars Mission’s science lead.

The Emirates mission captured new global images of Mars' discrete aurora
Credit: Emirates Mars Mission
Unlike Earth, Mars doesn’t have a global magnetic field generated by the planet’s core.

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Background: The Hope Probe reached Mars orbit in 2021. It aims to build the first full picture of the red plane’s climate throughout the Martian year.

Quick take: The patterns of the aurorae as they snake around the magnetic fields of Mars are an intriguing sight. They could also offer fresh insights into how the Martian atmosphere interacts with solar particles.


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