NASA’s MAVEN and the UAE’s EMM have released a joint observation of dynamic proton aurora events on Mars. Here is everything you want to know.
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission and the UAE Mission to Mars (EMM) have released joint observations of dynamic aurorae events on Mars. To report this, NASA Mars tweeted, “International teamwork is paying off on the Red Planet: By combining data from the MAVEN orbiter and HopeMarsMission, scientists are closer to understanding Mars’ proton auroras.”
The Emirates Mar Mission (Hope Probe) is known to have made the first observations of a new type of proton aurora near Mars. ‘Incomplete’ proton auroras could provide new insights into unexpected behaviors in the Martian atmosphere. “This new, incomplete type of proton aurora forms when the solar wind directly affects the upper atmosphere on the day side of Mars and emits ultraviolet light as it slows down,” the Hope Mars Mission tweeted.
according to Information provided by NASAIn the new study, the EMM detected minute-scale structures in the proton auroras that spanned an entire day’s side of Mars. Discovered by MAVEN in 2018, the proton aurora is a type of Martian aurora that forms when the solar wind made of charged particles from the Sun interacts with the upper atmosphere.
“Typical proton aurora observations by the MAVEN mission and the European Space Agency (ESA) show that these auroras appear smooth and evenly distributed across hemispheres. In contrast, EMM observed proton auroras that appeared to be highly dynamic and variable.” Turbulent conditions around Mars allow charged particles to flood directly into the atmosphere and glow as they slow down,” the report said.
“EMM observations indicate that the aurora was so widespread and disorganized that the plasma environment around Mars was really turbulent, to the point that the solar wind was directly affecting the upper atmosphere wherever we observed an auroral emission,” said MAVEN expert Mike Chavin. and EMM scientist based at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics and lead author of the study.
“By combining the EMM’s auroral observations with MAVEN measurements of the auroral plasma environment, we can confirm this hypothesis and determine that what we’re seeing was essentially a map of where the solar wind rains down on the planet,” he added.
NASA reports that an exchange of data between MAVEN and EMM enabled scientists to determine the drivers behind the incomplete proton auroras. “The EMM site carries the Emirates Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS), which monitors the red planet’s upper atmosphere and exosphere, looking for variation in atmospheric composition and atmospheric escape into space. MAVEN carries a full suite of plasma instruments, including a magnetometer (MAG), the Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA), and the Ultrathermal and Thermal Ion Generator (STATIC) instrument used in this study.”
On Mars, more than half a dozen orbiters are now taking scientific observations, and with Mars’ southern hemisphere currently going through summer, when the proton auroras are known to be the most active, multipoint observations will be crucial to understanding how these events form. The collaboration between EMM and MAVEN demonstrates the value of science-level discovery about the Martian atmosphere with two spacecraft simultaneously observing the same region.