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Current Affairs

Discrete auroras on Mars

Date: 07 July 2021 Tags: Space

Issue

Glowing atmospheric lights, known as auroras, have been discovered by UAE’s Hope mission in Mars’ night sky.

 

Background

The Hope mission is Arab world’s first space exploration mission. It is currently orbiting near Mars and will be sending precious data.

 

Details

  • The details sent by the probe in form of the ultraviolet atmospheric lights have never been seen before on Mars.

  • The auroras are visible in patchy glow when extraterrestrial particles enter Mars’ atmosphere and get excited due to magnetic field of the planet.

  • Auroras on Earth are usually seen near the North Pole and South Pole, whereas they are visible all around Mars’ night sky.

 

Formation of Auroras

  • Auroras occur when solar particles ejected by sun enter a planet’s atmosphere and get excited when they interact with atmospheric gases.

  • The magnetic field protects planet from Sun’s harmful solar particles by diverting them away from reaching the surface.

  • In Northern and southern pole of the Earth, the magnetic field is weaker, which allows solar particles to come down and interact with gases to form beautiful lights.

  • The polar lights on the Northern pole areas are known as aurora borealis and Southern lights are called aurora australis.

  • Northern lights are seen in countries such as US (Alaska), Greenland, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

  • The Southern lights are visible in countries such as Australia, Chile, Antarctica, New Zealand and Argentina.

 

Martian aurora

  • Magnetic field on Mars has vanished after the molten core cooled down, unlike that of the Earth. However, the crust retains some magnetic property due to metals.

  • This creates an uneven magnetic field that forms uneven distribution of solar particles around the planet, forming auroras.

 

Significance

Studying Martian aurora will provide vital clues on Mars losing its atmosphere and also magnetic field. These are essential for supporting life.

 

Hope orbiter

Hope orbiter is expected to study Martian weather and climate. It will try to find effects of weather changes on evaporation of oxygen and hydrogen from its surface.