back to article You wait for an aurora on Mars and MAVEN spots two arriving at the same time

A coronal mass ejection from our Sun sent a shower of charged particles to Mars, generating two types of ultraviolet auroras astronomers have never seen at the same time before. It's the first time such a solar wind has been detected by Martian orbiter MAVEN – that's the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe – during …

  1. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
    Devil

    A dust-up

    Maybe all that dust being blown around creates magnetic fields that could host an aurora?

    (Which way to the Nobel ceremony?)

    [ (Dust devils =====>) ]

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A dust-up

      From what I read in the article, the magnetic fields don;t have much, if anything, to do with producing an aurora. They just just affect where and what shape the aurora is.

      Any care to tell me the article is wrong or if I'm misreading it?

  2. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

    Does an Aurora strictly need the presence of a magnetic field?

    On Earth, the magnetic field funnels the charged particles into the polar region, and the interaction of the charged particles with the atmosphere produces the Aurora.

    If a non-magnetic planet with an atmosphere is blasted by a sufficiently strong solar wind, those charged particles would also interact with the atmosphere and produce an Aurora.

    Without the funnel, I guess, the solar wind just needs to be strong enough.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Does an Aurora strictly need the presence of a magnetic field?

      The problem with that theory is that you need an atmosphere to get Aurora's, and Mars's is so weak.

      The proton Aurora's they talk about only occur when the dust storms throw particles in the air in sufficient quantity to allow such interactions.

      But the diffuse ones, as I understand it, are super hard to explain as there just shouldnt be enough atmosphere under normal conditions to achieve the aurora effect. But maybe your right, you just need a stronger solar wind. Makes me think of the old adage - "If at first it doesnt work, get a bigger hammer".

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: Does an Aurora strictly need the presence of a magnetic field?

        The problem with that theory is that you need an atmosphere to get Aurora's, and Mars's is so weak.

        A thin atmosphere, here on Earth they are high altitude phenomena, all over by the time you hit the Karman line, still at sub-millibar levels, and they begin much higher, well above e.g. ISS territory. Pressure at the surface on Mars is several times higher so more than enough atmosphere to go at.

  3. Christoph

    "Dust storms heat up the atmosphere, pushing up water vapor into higher altitudes where the molecules are split into their oxygen and hydrogen parts. "

    And the hydrogen heads out for foreign parts, which is why Mars doesn't have seas any more.

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    "the Sun approaches its solar maximum in 2024 to 2025"

    So a bad idea to be in space on a long space flight to say Mars.

    Unless you're inside say 1m of solid rock.

    And as has been pointed out "thin atmosphere" ¬= "no atmosphere"

    So if you hit the Martian atmospheric system hard enough, then it starts rocking.

    Mine will be the one with the lead lining.

  5. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alien

    That’s no Aurora

    That’s the otherwise invisible Martian population!

    Albeit microscopic.

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