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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

‘Red planet gives green signal’: Unique glow around Mars lights up social media

As the photo went viral, not just brands to netizens, even NASA's photo department reacted to the unusual view with a dash of humour. While some said it looked like a shield protecting itself from 2020, others thought it reminded them of film Green Lantern.

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 18, 2020 11:49:40 am
Artist’s impression of ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter detecting the green glow of oxygen in the Martian atmosphere. (Source: ESA TGO/ Twitter)

A distinct green glow around the Red Planet Mars detected by an European spacecraft is the latest phenomenon that has sent netizens to a frenzy and prompted a flurry of discussions and memes as well. Interestingly, it is the first time that the phenomenon has been spotted on a world beyond Earth.

Detected by ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, the glow comes from oxygen atoms, which is present in the atmosphere of Mars, while interacting with sunlight.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have observed a similar green glow around the Earth from space but found it quite faint. However, researchers have explained the difference between the two green hues.

“One of the brightest emissions seen on Earth stems from night glow. More specifically, from oxygen atoms emitting a particular wavelength of light that has never been seen around another planet,” said Jean-Claude Gérard of the Université de Liège, Belgium, and lead author of the new study published in Nature Astronomy. “However, this emission has been predicted to exist at Mars for around 40 years – and, thanks to TGO, we’ve found it.”

The scientists were able to spot the emission using a special observing mode of the TGO.

As the photo went viral, not just netizens, even NASA reacted to the unusual view with a dash of humour. While some said it looked like a shield protecting itself from 2020, others thought it reminded them of superhero film “Green Lantern”.

“A good understanding of the atmosphere in this region, and its variation with latitude, time of day, season and dependence on the Solar cycle, is important for the planning of future missions to the surface of Mars. Obviously, all landers have to pass through this region, and here, friction between air molecules and the spacecraft body starts becoming high and generates a lot of heat. The design has to be made to properly fit the environment,” Håkan Svedhem, ESA’s TGO Project Scientist told Newsweek.

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