MAVEN Detects Aurora and Mysterious Dust Cloud around Mars

Photo from NASA's MAVEN Mission to Mars Posts

Shown here is an artist’s conception of MAVEN’s Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) observing the “Christmas lights aurora” on Mars. MAVEN observations show that aurora on Mars is similar to Earth’s “Northern Lights” but has a different origin. (Courtesy CU/LASP)

The ‪#‎MAVEN‬ spacecraft has observed two unexpected phenomena in the ‪#‎Martian‬ atmosphere: an unexplained high-altitude dust cloud and aurora that reaches deep into the Martian atmosphere.

Shown here is a map of the MAVEN Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph’s auroral detections in December 2014 overlaid on Mars’ surface. The map shows that the aurora was widespread in the northern hemisphere, not tied to any geographic location. The aurora was detected in all observations during a 5-day period, though no data were taken in the southern hemisphere and some regions in the northern hemisphere were missed. (Courtesy CU/LASP)

Shown here is a map of the MAVEN Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph’s auroral detections in December 2014 overlaid on Mars’ surface. The map shows that the aurora was widespread in the northern hemisphere, not tied to any geographic location. The aurora was detected in all observations during a 5-day period, though no data were taken in the southern hemisphere and some regions in the northern hemisphere were missed. (Courtesy CU/LASP)

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Courtesy of NASA’s MAVEN Mission to Mars