An interesting revelation has been made by NASA's orbiter MAVEN as it has given scientists the first detailed look at the 'nightglow' of planet Mars.
Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution aka MAVEN has taken global pictures of the Red Planet in ultraviolet light, reports Space.com. The pictures shed light on many unique aspects of the planet and one can watch the live action too. Watch the video now.
Coming to 'nightglow,' it is a phenomenon, in which the sky of a planet glows in a faint way, even in the absence of any external light.
MAVEN found that on Mars 'nightglow' is caused by nitric oxide emissions and the emissions are produced as a result of sun's UV light breaking down carbon dioxide and nitrogen molecules on the day side of the planet. The high-altitude winds circulate the remaining atoms across the planet and these atoms flow down to lower altitudes where nitric oxide is created as a result of combination of nitrogen and oxygen.
According to NASA officials, the splotches and streaks appearing in the images taken by MAVEN clearly indicates strong irregularities in the winds flowing at the high-altitudes of Mars as well as their circulations patterns. Since it is the first time that images showing the action of the emissions have come out, they will lead to an improved determination of the circulations patterns that control the behavior of the atmosphere at high altitudes.
Not only this, they have also disclosed facts about clouds formation over big Martian volcanoes and how ozone changes seasonally. Daylight images have shown that ozone persists for longer duration in the southern hemisphere of Mars. Ozone also breaks down in the event of introduction of water vapor and the winds of the Red Planet keep the vapor away well into the spring.
This is indeed a landmark discovery for the scientists as the cloud images are the best. By monitoring the clouds, the scientists can understand the functioning of a planet as in how it regulates its energy and water vapor over each day and season.