In an image taken by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, Mars showed off its mysterious face.
For the first time in the history of the Red Planet’s night sky, a soft green glow was discovered, muted by the darkness of the Martian night.
This amazing discovery was the result of research carried out by planetary scientists from the University of Liege in Belgium under the leadership of Jean-Claude Gerard.
“These observations are unexpected and interesting for future trips to the Red Planet,” says Gerard.
Scientists say the nightglow on Mars is caused by a rare phenomenon of oxygen atoms recombining into dioxide (O2) molecules at altitudes of 40 to 60 kilometers during the Martian winter.
This glow is so bright that it may become a guide for researchers trying to determine the clarity of the Martian night.
By comparison, on Earth, nightglow appears as layers of green, golden and reddish light due to the recombination of free atoms into molecules in the atmosphere.
But on other planets, such as Venus and Jupiter, the night glow has its own unique characteristics, as if each planet reveals its own unique light code.