The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released ultraviolet images of Mars. The photos were captured by the UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN), giving us unprecedented view of the planet’s atmosphere.
The high-resolution photos also reveal how winds circulate at high altitudes on the planet. We can also see how ozone amounts change over the seasons as well as afternoon clouds forming over Martian volcanoes.
The night glow emission, in which the sky faintly glows even without external light, shown on the images are formed by nitric oxide. It is actually a common phenomenon in planets.
The Martian night glow emission has been predicted before but this is the first time the phenomenon was photographed.
The photos of Mars’ South Pole were taken as spring arrived to the planet’s southern hemisphere. The photos of the clouds are considered to be among the best ones taken, which can reveal to scientists the Red Planet’s energy balance and water vapor inventory. According to the researchers, this could give us further understanding about the Martian daily and seasonal behaviors.
MAVEN’s mission collaborators include experts from the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the University of California at Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Last month, SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk announced his plans about colonizing the Red Planet at the International Astronautical Congress event in Guadalajara, Mexico. He is optimistic that the new Raptor rocket engine is enough to propel the Mars Colonial Transporter or Interplanetary Transport System, which will hopefully take humans to Mars and beyond one day.
The Interplanetary Transport System could finally bring humans to the Red Planet by 2024. These space explorers are expected to arrive on Mars a year later.