Washington: A type of aurora in Mars — first identified by NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft in 2016 — is the most common form of the lights occurring on the Red Planet, according to a study which can help track water loss from the Red Planet’s atmosphere. The study, noted that aurora on the Earth are commonly seen as colourful displays of light in the night sky near the polar regions.
However, the researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in the US, said the phenomenon on Mars, called a proton aurora, happens during the day and gives off ultraviolet light.
They said it is invisible to the human eye but detectable to the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument on the MAVEN — Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN — spacecraft. The spacecraft’s mission is to investigate how Mars lost much of its atmosphere and water, transforming its climate from one that might have supported life to one that is cold, dry, and inhospitable.
“In this new study using MAVEN/IUVS data from multiple Mars years, the team has found that periods of increased atmospheric escape correspond with increases in proton aurora occurrence and intensity,” said Andrea Hughes of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the US.