'Purple Rain, Purple Rain': NASA Shares Visuals Of Aurora On Mars

'Purple Rain, Purple Rain': NASA Shares Visuals Of Aurora On Mars

The US State Space Agency, NASA, shared a captivating visual of purple-tainted auroras formed on the red planet Mars, sent by NASA's orbiter named MAVEN between May 14 and 20, 2024.

Manasi KambleUpdated: Wednesday, June 19, 2024, 03:10 PM IST
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NASA shares images captured by its orbiter, MAVEN, of the purple aurora formed on Mars. | NASA

NASA's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument aboard NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiter captured the enchanted aurora lights that covered the red planet with a purple hue between May 14 and May 20 of this year. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently shared a video of aurora lights across Mars at night.

The space agency thrilled its Instagram followers with an animated GIF that showcased auroras on Mars' nightside in a recent post. NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiter and the US space agency's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument both recorded this unusual event.

NASA's Instagram Post

"The purple color in this video shows auroras across Mars' nightside as detected by the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument aboard NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) orbiter. The brighter the purple, the more auroras were present. Taken as waves of energetic particles from a solar storm were arriving at Mars, the sequence pauses at the end, when the wave of the most energetic particles arrived and overwhelmed the instrument with noise," NASA wrote in the caption of the post.

When Was It Captured?

This stellar display of purple-colored lights on the red planet was photographed by NASA's MAVEN between May 14 and May 20, 2024. The space agency clarified in the caption that these auroras happen differently than those we see on Earth.

"Our home planet is shielded from charged particles by a robust magnetic field, which normally limits auroras to regions near the poles. (Solar maximum is the reason behind the recent auroras seen as far south as Alabama.) Mars lost its internally generated magnetic field in the ancient past, so there's no protection from the barrage of energetic particles. When charged particles hit the Martian atmosphere, it results in auroras that engulf the entire planet," NASA further explained. 

The post was shared by NASA a few days ago, and since then, it has received over 261,000 likes and numerous comments with hilarious Marvel references and music references.

Auroras on Earth VS Auroras on Mars

When energy particles from solar storms move along a planet's magnetic field lines, they produce colourful lights known as auroras. The auroras that are visible on Earth and those that are not differ. These lights are typically limited to areas close to the poles because the Earth is protected by a strong magnetic field.

On the other hand, Mars's naturally occurring magnetic field was lost long ago. As a result, there is no defense against the onslaught of powerful particles when the charged particles enter Mars' atmosphere. Auroras envelop the entire planet when charged particles enter the Martian atmosphere.

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