The Hope Orbiter currently exploring Mars has sent incredible images back to Earth showing a strange green glow coming from the Red Planet.
The United Arab Emirates sent Hope up to Mars earlier this year. The orbiter used its ultraviolet spectrometer to capture structures of glowing atomic oxygen high up in the Martian night sky.
Images of aurorae on Mars’ night side have been difficult to capture in the past. However, Hope is carrying out a unique elliptical orbit around the planet, allowing it to observe the dark side of the planet on each 55-hour orbit.
The UAE Space Agency said, “The full set of data collected during these observations include far and extreme ultraviolet auroral emissions which have never been imaged before at Mars.”
On Mars, there are three types of aurorae -diffuse, proton, and discrete.
The new high-resolution images of the discrete aurora give scientists huge insight into the atmosphere on Mars.
These spectrums have never been seen by the naked eye. Only instruments that can see across ultraviolet wavelengths have been able to make them out.
They are created in the same way as Earth’s auroras – Particles from the solar wind in space enter Mars’ atmosphere and interact with gas in the upper atmosphere. This causes the oxygen to glow, as shown in the newly released images.
“The beacons of light that stand out against the dark nightside disk are highly structured discrete aurora, which traces out where energetic particles excite the atmosphere after being funnelled down by a patchy network of crustal magnetic fields that originate from minerals on the surface of Mars,” the Space Agency added.
UAE scientists plan to publish an analysis of their observations and what they could mean for the study of Mars going forward.
Dubai ruler and UAE vice president Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum shared a video on social media with the message, “The UAE’s Hope Probe, first-ever Arab interplanetary mission, has captured the first global images of Mars’ Discrete Aurora. The high-quality images open up unprecedented potential for the global science community to investigate solar interactions with Mars.”