Curiosity Spots Earth and Venus from Martian Surface | Space Exploration

James Marshall
June 17, 2020

The Red Planet takes about 687 Earth days to circle the sun once; a typical day on Mars is about 37 minutes longer than on Earth. At night, a glow is created when the molecules in the dissolved atmosphere return together. During the day, glare occurs when sunlight shakes atmospheric molecules and atoms such as nitrogen and oxygen.

This is because our planet has a bright surface, which can flood this dim glow.

"One of the brightest emissions seen on Earth stems from night glow".

A study conducted by the astronomer Jean-Claude Gérard of the Université de Liège in Belgium, confirms that the green glow we see on Earth is present on Mars as well.

By deciphering the structure and behaviour of this green glowing layer of Mars' atmosphere, scientists can gain insight into an altitude range that has remained largely unexplored, and monitor how it changes as the Sun's activity varies and Mars travels along its orbit around our star. This allows it to observe in different configurations - one of which positions its instruments to point directly down at Mars.

"During this time of year on Mars, there's more dust in the air to reflect sunlight, making it particularly bright".

Co-author Ann Carine Vandaele, the chief investigator of NOMAD, said that despite many efforts they hadn't been able to capture any green glow in the past.

This indicates the presence of the green glow - alongside a weaker ultraviolet oxygen emission at 297.2 nanometres.

Gérard and his team further investigated Mars' glowing green and compared to what is observed around the Earth. What's triggering the glow is that carbon dioxide gets separated from carbon monoxide and oxygen when solar radiation hits the atmosphere of Mars.

"More specifically, from oxygen atoms emitting a particular wavelength of light that has never been seen around another planet".

When split, one image shows a distant Earth, and the other photo contains Venus, along with a portion of the rocky Martian feature known as Tower Butte that can be spotted in the image's bottom left corner.

This is also crucial for understanding the hours.

The European Space Agency's orbiter has been circling Mars for almost four years and has recently made an astonishing discovery - glowing green oxygen in the atmosphere.

The accommodation on the NASA lander and the MSR surface mission profile impose new requirements to the SFR locomotion system, which will be equipped with four wheels, larger than the six flexible wheels used on the ExoMars Rover.

Airbus UK has won a new contract to design the Sample Fetch Rover, which is planned to collect the first ever samples of Martian rocks and soil.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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