Martian Night Sky Pulses In Ultraviolet Light
Images from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, using the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph, show that vast regions of the Martian night sky pulse in ultraviolet light.
- The results from the images are used to illuminate complex circulation patterns in the Martian atmosphere.
- Pulsations are caused by downwards winds which enact chemical creations to give off a glow.
- Months of data were averaged to identify the pattern, revealing the occurrence of exactly three pulses each night.
- The data showed waves and spirals over the winter poles, and the nightglow is brightest over the winter polar regions.
- The brightenings occur after Martian sunsets during fall and winter, and fad by midnight.
- Air currents in the middle of Mars’ atmosphere carry gases between the lowest and highest layers; brightenings occur where vertical winds bring fases to regions with higher density, speeding up chemical reactions.
- The pulsations reveal the significance of planet-encircling waves in the Martian atmosphere, which are influenced by the daily pattern of solar heating and Mars’ topography.
- The circulation patterns transport atmospheric gases from the surface to the edge of space, relating to discoveries in atmosphere loss and climate change.