Alien aurora. Scientists have revealed the secret of the aurora borealis on Mars

Can humans land on Mars? The research revealed what could be the biggest problem

It is the combined observation of these two teams that has now yielded valuable new insights into the unique atmosphere of Mars. Together, the scientists decided to study the aurora borealis, which dance and shine high in the planet’s atmosphere. An article describing their findings was recently published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Scientists focused specifically on proton auroras. Martian proton auroras, first described by experts in 2018, are the most common auroras on the red planet. This aurora borealis has no analogues on Earth, because compared to our planet, Mars does not have an internally controlled magnetosphere, and thus the aurora borealis is created in a different way.

The patchy proton aurora on Mars occurs when turbulent conditions around the planet allow charged hydrogen particles from the Sun to flow into the Martian atmosphere.Source: EMM/EMUS

The Martian proton auroras are created when the solar wind, composed of charged particles, interacts with the upper atmosphere. Positively charged protons in the solar wind collide with the hydrogen shell of Mars, becoming ionized and neutralized by electrons from the hydrogen atoms. This exchange of charge allows the neutral particles to bypass the shock wave of the magnetic field around Mars and subsequently rain down in the upper atmosphere, emitting ultraviolet light.

Aurora is irregular, variable electromagnetic radiation created in the atmosphere by the flow of charged particles from the surrounding space. Energetic particles penetrate into the deeper layers of the atmosphere, where they excite neutral molecules. A typical source of charged particles from the external environment is the solar wind. On Earth, auroras typically form in the polar regions, where charged particles penetrate the atmosphere along the closed lines of force of the planet’s own magnetic field. In the case of planets without their own magnetic field, auroras also occur, but they are no longer tied to the polar regions, because these planets have no magnetic poles.

Until now, this process has been thought to reliably produce auroras that appear smooth and are evenly distributed across the hemisphere. However, new observations by EMM scientists show otherwise. Indeed, the research team discovered fine structures and weaker and stronger spots in the proton aurora, which covered the entire day side of Mars. This suggests that other, as yet unknown, processes may be at play in the formation of Martian auroras.

Planet Mars.

The first plant grown on Mars? Scientists have already selected the most suitable one

According to these new findings, proton auroras appear to be highly dynamic and variable. Similarly, the patchy glow is formed when turbulent conditions around Mars allow charged particles to flood directly into the atmosphere and then emit a glow as they slow down, scientists say.

The August 5 images show typical atmospheric conditions in which the instruments did not detect any unusual activity. But on August 11 and August 30, they observed patchy auroras at both wavelengths, indicating turbulent interactions with the solar windThe August 5 images show typical atmospheric conditions in which the instruments did not detect any unusual activity. But on August 11 and August 30, they observed patchy auroras at both wavelengths, indicating turbulent interactions with the solar windSource: EMM/EMUS

“EMM observations indicated that the aurora on Mars was so widespread and disordered that the plasma environment around the planet must have been disturbed. “To the extent that the solar wind directly hit the upper atmosphere wherever we observed the aurora,” explained planetary scientist and lead study author Mike Chaffin from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Chaos instead of order

The combination of the observations of both teams then confirmed this hypothesis. “What we saw was basically a map of where the solar wind ‘rained’ onto the planet,” Chaffin elaborated. The described plasma turbulence essentially led to the direct deposition of the solar wind on Mars during the entire Martian day.

The surface of the planet Mars.

Caves on Mars will be explored by robots that move like Spider-Man

Under normal circumstances, it is very difficult for the solar wind to reach the upper atmosphere of Mars because it is mostly redirected by the shock wave and magnetic fields surrounding the planet. The new observations of the anomalous proton aurora are therefore a window into rare circumstances—ones during which the interaction between Mars and the solar wind is, so to speak, chaotic.

However, it is not yet clear whether and to what extent this interaction with the solar wind affects the planet on its surface as well. “The full impact of these conditions on the Martian atmosphere is unknown, but observations by the EMM and MAVEN missions will play a key role in understanding these mysterious events,” Chaffin outlined.

Source: Youtube

According to experts, it cannot be ruled out that the proton aurora can potentially have consequences for the long-term loss of the atmosphere and water on the planet. However, any hypotheses need to be verified by further research. “Much future data and modeling studies will be needed to unravel the full implications of these conditions for the atmospheric evolution of Mars,” the researchers concluded.

Aurora Borealis on Mars

Mars does not have its own global magnetic field. However, in the induced magnetic field, when interacting with the plasma flowing from the Sun, closed magnetic field lines can be formed, along which charged particles ionizing the atmosphere can circulate. These auroras are called diffuseappear during periods of increased solar activity and occur roughly 70 km above Mars.

The second type of auroras is unique to Mars. The crust of the planet remembers the times when the planet still had its own magnetic field. Mars thus has its own local magnetic fields created by magnetized material in the crust. It appears at the interface of closed and open magnetic field lines discreet aurora borealis, roughly at heights of 140 km.

The third, most recently described type of aurora is protonic Aurora. This glow is unprecedented on Earth, because due to its own magnetic field, protons at a safe distance from Earth are deflected along the lines of force of the planet’s magnetic field. Charged energetic particles stop on Mars only in the ionopause, where a shock wave is formed. Positively charged protons in the solar wind collide with the hydrogen shell of Mars, becoming ionized and neutralized by electrons from the hydrogen atoms. This exchange of charge allows the neutral particles to bypass the shock wave of the magnetic field around Mars and subsequently rain down in the upper atmosphere, emitting ultraviolet light.

Source: weekly Aldebaran bulletin

The article is in Czech

Tags: Alien aurora Scientists revealed secret aurora borealis Mars

NEXT Stories from the First Republic: free audiobook by Franta Habn from ikova