Mars is located ‘right next door’ judging by an astronomical scale, and it’s the fourth planet from the Sun. This means that astronomers have many chances to study it, although no astronaut has ever laid foot on the Red Planet yet.
But even so, Mars still surprises astronomers. It happens once again now, as they cannot explain, at least for the moment, the reason behind the presence of bizarre and huge aurora that stretches halfway across our neighboring planet, according to LiveScience.com.
A new type of aurora
The aurora happening on Mars appeared during a solar storm that occurred on the planet recently. The aurora is so bizarre that it wasn’t seen before anywhere else. The United Arab Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) that’s responsible for discovering the aurora using the EMUS (Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer) instrument mounted on its Hope orbiter describes the phenomenon as a ‘sinuous discrete aurora.’
Rob Lillis, who’s a planetary scientist from the University of California, Berkeley, stated as LiveScience.com quotes:
The sinuous discrete aurora was a shocking discovery that in many ways has us scratching our heads and going back to the drawing board,
We have ideas, but no solid explanation for why we are observing intense aurora of this shape and at planetary scales.
When it comes to auroras on Earth, these beautiful phenomenons occur when ions from the solar wind interact with oxygen and nitrogen atoms from the atmosphere. The collisions cause energy to be released and trigger the colorful and glowing halo that many of us love.
The minimum distance that separates Mars from Earth is over 54 million kilometers. Considering that the distance to the Moon is a lot less (over 384,000 km), there’s no wonder why nobody has ever been to the Red Planet yet.