Credit By: Earth.com
For the first time, a gentle green glow has been observed in the night sky of Mars, visible to the human eye. The European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter mission captured this unexpected phenomenon, showcasing a bright light in the optical spectrum, especially pronounced in the polar regions.
Unexpected Nightglow on Mars
As the Trace Gas Orbiter orbits Mars, it identified a luminous nightglow, a surprising occurrence in the visible domain. The brightness of the nightglow in the polar regions suggests potential visibility for human explorers, offering a unique navigational aid if the Martian night is cloud-free.
“This nightglow should be observable from a Martian orbiter as well as from the Martian surface with the naked eye under clear sky conditions,” remarks planetary scientist Jean-Claude Gérard of the University of Liège in Belgium.
Nightglow in the Solar System
Nightglow is a known phenomenon in the atmospheres of celestial bodies, often induced by solar activity. On Earth, nightglow presents as layers of green, golden, or reddish light. However, on Mars, both infrared and ultraviolet nightglow had been observed previously, but visible nightglow remained elusive.
Scientific Significance and Implications
The detection of visible nightglow on Mars holds scientific importance. Atmospheric glows serve as tracers for understanding atmospheric chemistry, circulation, and processes. Given Mars’s thin atmosphere, studying its composition contributes to unraveling the planet’s evolutionary history.
The researchers note that these observations open avenues for future comprehensive studies of Martian atmospheric circulation using cost-effective instruments, promising insights that will be valuable for upcoming explorations.
In conclusion, this unprecedented observation not only adds a captivating dimension to our understanding of Mars but also underscores the potential practical applications of visible nightglow for future human exploration of the Red Planet.
Follow ARP Media for more informative blogs.