Mars: researchers discover green glow in the atmosphere of Mars


  • ofTanja Banner


The atmosphere of Mars is lit green, discovered researchers. On earth, we know the phenomenon as the Airglow or the night sky light. The technology behind it.

  • The Mars Rover TGO the Esa has a green lights in the atmosphere of the Mars discovered
  • For 40 years, this phenomenon is Mars predicted – only now it was spotted
  • Even on earth we know of this phenomenon

There are – in addition to the earth – hardly a planet that is so closely associated with a color, such as the Mars. The “red Planet” he called happily, already with the naked eye you can see in the night sky its reddish tinge and images that the space probes and Mars Rover to the earth, have sent, clearly reveal that The surface of the planet Mars* is actually red.

Mars Orbiter discovers the green lights in the atmosphere of the red planet

Now, however, the European Mars Orbiter TGO (the”Trace Gas Orbiter has discovered”), a previously not necessarily Mars related web color: Green. TGO is orbiting around Mars and has been identified in the atmosphere of the red planet, a green light – oxygen. The phenomenon of the green light of oxygen of a planet has been seen so far only in the case of a planet: earth. The phenomenon here is Airglow, or night sky light. Researchers had already suspected that it might also give the Mars the green glowing oxygen.

The Esa-Oribter TGO has discovered a green glow in the atmosphere of Mars. (Artistic Representation)

© Esa

“One of the brightest emissions seen on the earth, comes from the Airglow or special: Of oxygen atoms, which emit light in a specific wave length,” explains Jean-Claude Gérard (Université de Liège in Belgium), the main author of the study, which was published in the journal “Nature Astronomy”, in a Statement. “For the past 40 years, however, predicted that it will be on the Mars and thanks to TGO, we have found you,“ says Gérard more.

The green lights on Mars and earth: oxygen interacts

On earth, the green creates lights, among other things, if the energy of the charged particles from the space, the upper atmosphere of the earth – the polar light. However, the glow Atmospheres of planets like earth and Mars day and night, because the sun interacts with the atoms and molecules in the atmosphere, inter.

On earth this is green Glow very faint and best seen from the perspective of the astronauts. On pictures taken from the International space station, ISS, can you see the green lights around the earth often.

The Martian atmosphere is lit green camera looked directly down

In the Mars Atmosphere the green lights discovered thanks to a special observation mode of the Trace Gas Orbiter. The camera was directly down on the Mars directed and had a very similar perspective as you have the astronauts on the ISS in the direction of the earth.

Between the 24. April and 1. December 2019 scanned researchers, the atmosphere of Mars at an altitude of 20 to 400 kilometers two Times with the Orbiter, and then the data analyzed. The green glow was seen in all recordings, reports the European space Agency, Esa in a communication.

The green lights on Mars at an altitude of 80 kilometers

Also in the earth’s atmosphere, the green light – if you have the right perspective. This image was taken by astronauts on the ISS.

© Nasa

“The issue was at an altitude of about 80 kilometres, at the most,” says Co-author Ann Carine Vandaele (Institut Royal d’Aéronomie Spatiale de Belgique, Belgium). The lights have varied depending on the changing distance between Mars and the sun. But where does the oxygen originate on Mars*? Also found out by the researchers: In the case of the Emission was CO2, which was broken into its component parts: oxygen and carbon monoxide, so the study Director Gérard. “We have seen how the oxygen atoms of lights in the visible and ultra-violet light”.

The observations around the Mars fit according to Gérard to the theoretical models, but not to the actually observed lights around the earth, which is significantly weaker. “This means that we need to learn more, such as oxygen atoms that behavior,” explains Gérard. This is very important for the understanding of atomic and quantum physics.

Exploration of Mars in 2020, to break three missions to the red planet

The exploration of the Mars is not only scientifically interesting, but also a support for unmanned missions, the Mars explore. For example, the density of the atmosphere has a direct impact on the Orbiter and the parachutes, the space probes to the Mars-Surface to reach.

Mars holds many secrets*, the want to air researchers. In the July and August 2020 a time opens for a couple of weeks window in which the Mars to reach from the earth to be particularly good. Three Space probes to*in this period to Mars breaking up:

  • the Nasa Rover “Perseverance”
  • the space probe “Hope” of the United Arab Emirates
  • the Chinese space probe “Yinghuo-2” (Mars Orbiter, Lander and Rover)

The European-Russian Mission To Mars “ExoMars” the Rover “Rosalind Franklin” has been postponed to the year 2022 – stand Mars and earth is favorable to each other.

By Tanja Banner

* is part of the nationwide Ippen-Digital-editor.

Section List Image: © Esa


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