Science

The spacecraft captures Mars' "green glow"

The spacecraft captures Mars'

An orbiting spacecraft has detected a odd green glow on Mars that had previously only been seen on one planet - Earth. At night, a glow is created when the molecules in the dissolved atmosphere return together.

The nightglow occurs when atoms break apart by radiation from the Sun during the day recombine.

Co-author Ann Carine Vandaele, of the Institut Royal d'Aeronomie Spatiale de Belgique, said: "Previous observations hadn't captured any kind of green glow at Mars, so we made a decision to reorient the UVIS nadir channel to point at the "edge" of Mars, similar to the perspective you see in images of Earth taken from the ISS. In particular, from oxygen atoms that emit a certain wavelength of light that has never been seen on another planet", said Jean-Claude Gérard, lead author of the study. and astronomer and professor at the University of Liège in Belgium, in a statement.

The spacecraft on which the Schiaparelli travelled to Mars, Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), carries a probe to study trace gases such as methane around the planet.

NOMAD was used between 24 April and 1 December 2019 to scan altitudes ranging from 20 to 400 kilometers above the Martian surface, twice per orbit.

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The indicative green glow was found in all the data collected during this period - and an impressive orbit for the orbit, given that the atmosphere of Mars during the day shines much brighter than the night and makes it green. glare more hard to detect, the researchers said.

This indicates the presence of the green glow - alongside a weaker ultraviolet oxygen emission at 297.2 nanometres. This is different from the type of aurora we know as the Northern Lights. Astronomers have noted that the green glow can occur on other planets, but due to the brightness of their atmospheres, it can be complex to capture it using telescopes.

'We modeled this emission and found that it's mostly produced as carbon dioxide, or CO2, is broken up into its constituent parts: carbon monoxide and oxygen, ' he said. "This suggests we have more to learn about how oxygen atoms behave, which is hugely important for our understanding of atomic and quantum physics". The green color is related to the energetic electrons from space that hit the Earth's atmosphere.The emission of light is driven by oxygen, which is why the auroras take on the characteristic green color. The continuation of the ESA ExoMars mission includes the landing of Rosalind Franklin on the surface of Mars in 2022.

Airbus UK has won a new contract to design the Sample Fetch Rover, which is planned to collect the first ever samples of Martian rocks and soil.



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