An artist's impression of what the green glow looks like. Image Credit: ESA
An orbiting spacecraft has picked up a phenomenon that, until now at least, had only been seen on Earth.
When the astronauts look back at our planet from the International Space Station, they will sometimes see a distinctive green glow - the result of oxygen atoms being excited by the light from the Sun.
Now, for the first time, this same glow has been identified on Mars as well.
The observation was made using the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) spacecraft, which was built and launched as part of a collaboration between Roscosmos and the European Space Agency.
It's worth emphasizing that the phenomenon is separate to the auroras seen in the northern and southern skies of Earth - these are produced when charged particles from the Sun accelerate along the field lines of Earth's magnetic field and interact with the gas atoms in its atmosphere.
The green glow, by contrast, occurs due to the interaction between oxygen atoms and sunlight.
"It's a nice result," said Dr Manish Patel.
"You'd never plan a mission to go look for this kind of thing. Today, we have to be very clear about the science we're going to do before we get to Mars."
"But having got there, we thought, 'well, let's have a look'. And it worked."
Source: BBC News | Comments (0)
Similar stories based on this topic: