See These Breathtaking Photos Of Mars Taken By NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft

Ahmed Bilal
Posted Oct 20, 2016
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NASA has been studying Mars quite closely for a long time now. The space agency just released a batch of new ultraviolet photos of the Martian land taken from the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft. You have never seen the Red planet like these pictures (below) showcase. The pictures show the atmosphere, nightglow and the cloud formations of Mars. These are unique photos and such highly detailed images weren’t possible until now.

“MAVEN obtained hundreds of such images in recent months, giving some of the best high-resolution ultraviolet coverage of Mars ever obtained,” said one of the researchers, Nick Schneider from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

These photos are just remarkable

The coolest of all pictures is that of Mars’ nitric oxide (NO) ‘nightglow’ emission. This is a phenomenon in which the dark side of a planet still emits light even though no outside light is shining on it. It occurs due to chemical reactions happening in the atmosphere of the planet on its other side.

NightGlowMAVEN

“Mars’ night side atmosphere emits light in the ultraviolet due to chemical reactions that start on Mars’ dayside,” the team explains.

“Ultraviolet light from the Sun breaks down molecules of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, and the resulting atoms are carried around the planet by high-altitude wind patterns that encircle the planet.”

As winds from the dayside die down, these atoms get closer to the surface of the planet; this is when nitric oxide is formed by the combination of nitrogen and oxygen. This releases energy which can be seen in ultraviolet light as the team from NASA did. This is the first time researchers have actually witnessed photographic evidence of this process.

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The team of researchers was also able to see the changes in the atmosphere of Mars as the seasons changed. More specifically they were able to see the South Pole of the Red Planet as the spring season starts, these photos allowed the team to have a unique look into how the ozone layers of the Martian atmosphere forms and fades. The pink in the image below highlights the ozone concentration in the South Pole.

MAVEN South Pole

“Ozone is destroyed when water vapour is present, so ozone accumulates in the winter polar region where the water vapour has frozen out of the atmosphere,” the team said.

“The images show ozone lasting into spring, indicating that global winds are inhibiting the spread of water vapour from the rest of the planet into winter polar regions.”

These photos will allow researchers to understand the Martian surface better

These pictures will allow the NASA researchers to better understand how water vapour and other seasonal activities take place on Mars, MAVEN also captured cloud formation around the gigantic volcanoes in Mars. The false color images below show light color spots which are in reality clouds moving around a dark spot that is showing Olympus Mons (which is Mars’ tallest volcano).

Maven pictures

This is just the beginning of these beautiful pictures from the Martian surface, with many more to come. We will keep you updated as more pictures surface, till then enjoy these pictures. You can also check out this video below to see the cloud formation from MAVEN’s perspective.

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