New ultraviolet images of Mars offer stunning views of the planet’s changing seasons.
Astronomers using NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (Muffin) The spacecraft photographed the red planet in July 2022, during the southern hemisphere summer season when the planet was closest to the sun, and then again in January 2023 after that. MarsThe northern hemisphere has passed the farthest point in its orbit from the sun.
MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectroradiometer (IUVS) instrument measures wavelengths between 110 and 340 nanometers, just outside the visible spectrum. The purple regions in the images represent the ozone layer in Mars’ atmosphere, while the white and blue regions represent clouds or haze in the planet’s sky. The planet’s surface appears brown or green in the new images.
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“By viewing the planet in ultraviolet wavelengths, scientists can gain insight into the Martian atmosphere and view surface features in fascinating ways,” according to NASA officials. he said in a statement.
The images, shared by NASA on June 22, were taken when the planet was near opposite ends of its orbit around the sun, and quickly captured Mars. Seasons change. Like Earth, Mars rotates on a tilted axis, which causes the planet to go through four different seasons. However, the seasons on Mars are almost twice as long as those on Earth because a Martian year is almost twice as long as a year on Earth.
Mars orbits close to the sun when the southern hemisphere is tilted toward it, while the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun when it is farther away. as a result of, Temperatures It is hotter during the southern summer than in the northern summer. The rise in temperature is causing more turbulence, strong winds and larger dust storms in the southern hemisphere.
The first image, taken in July 2022, captures one of Mars’ deepest craters, Argyre Basin, near the planet’s lower left. The crater appears filled with atmospheric haze, while the deep canyons of Valles Marineris near the planet’s upper left appear filled with clouds.
Warmer summer temperatures cause the Antarctic ice caps to shrink, which in turn releases carbon dioxide and causes the atmosphere to thicken. MAVEN, launched in November 2013 to study the planet’s atmospheric gases, has detected increased hydrogen loss from Mars at this time of year, which is likely the result of dust storms that push water vapor to very high altitudes.
Studying these systems will provide a better look at how the Red Planet has evolved over time. “Understanding atmospheric loss gives scientists insight into the history of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and habitability of planetsNASA officials said in the statement.
The second image, taken in January 2023, captures the northern hemisphere of the red planet after it has passed the furthest point in its orbit around the sun, causing an abundance of white clouds in the north polar region. Ozone buildup can also be seen at the top of the planet (purple), having built up during the cold winter nights. However, an increase in water vapor in the spring would destroy this ozone patch in the northern hemisphere.
NASA’s MAVEN mission will celebrate its 10th anniversary this fall, having entered Mars orbit in September 2014.
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