NASA’s MAVEN Captures Martian “Purple Rain” Auroras Caused by Solar Storm

These Auroras are purple because of weak magnetic field of Mars as compared to Earth. While on Earth these Auroras are Green.

A Mars orbiter has captured stunning displays of auroras spreading across the atmosphere of the Red Planet, spanning its entire globe. Similar to Earth, Mars experiences vibrant displays of colorful lights following solar storms, which unlike Earth, aren’t confined to the poles but spread across wider regions of the planet’s skies

Since 2014, NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft, orbiting Mars, observed these auroras during three distinct periods: February 3-5, February 7-10, and February 15-16.

Mars aurora captured by NASA’s MAVEN

What Is an Aurora?

Auroras are brilliant displays of light that can be seen if you happen to be close to either the North or South Poles. These are known as the northern lights, or aurora borealis, near the North Pole, and the southern lights, or aurora Australis, near the South Pole.

What makes this happen?

The Sun is the actual cause of auroras, despite the fact that they are most visible at night.

In addition to heat and light, the Sun also emits a wide range of other energies and tiny particles. We are largely shielded from energy and particles by the Earth’s protective magnetic field, and we are unaware of them.
However, the Sun doesn’t always emit the same quantity of energy. Both solar storms and a continuous stream of solar wind exist. The Sun occasionally burps up a massive bubble of electrified gas that can move across space at great speeds. A coronal mass ejection is the name for this kind of solar storm.

A portion of the energy and tiny particles released by a solar storm can enter Earth’s atmosphere via passing through the magnetic field lines at the north and south poles.

There, the particles combine with the molecules in our atmosphere to produce breathtaking light shows in the heavens. Red and green light are produced by oxygen. Nitrogen emits purple and blue light.

Do other planets get auroras?

Indeed, they do! Auroras are not limited to the planet Earth. Auroras are most likely present on planets with magnetic fields and atmospheres. Amazing auroras have been observed on Saturn and Jupiter.

The NASA Hubble Space Telescope took this picture of an aurora on Jupiter using ultraviolet (UV) light

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