NASA has shared two stunning ultraviolet images of Mars.
These photos were taken by the space agency’s MAVEN (Mars Atmospheric and Volatile Evolution) missions are conducted at various points in the planet’s sun orbit.
One was taken in July 2022 and the other in January 2023 when the planet was at the opposite end of its orbit.
Mars takes longer to orbit the sun than Earth — 687 days instead of 365.
nasa Scientists hope that the ultraviolet view will provide a deeper understanding of the atmospheres and surface features of red (or, in this case, multicolored) planets.
What do the different colors mean?
The measurements recorded by the imaging instruments used by MAVEN are invisible to the human eye, so NASA renders them at different brightness levels.
There are three types in total, denoted as red, green and blue.
Using this color scheme, atmospheric ozone appears purple or pink; white clouds and haze are white or blue, and planetary surfaces may appear tan or green.
What does the image show?
The image below is from last summer when Mars passed its closest approach to the sun.
Argyle Basin, one of its deepest craters, appears at lower left and is filled with atmospheric haze; upper left is the vast canyon of Valles Marineris; the Antarctic ice sheet is visible at the bottom.
The January 2023 image is the image at the top of this article.
Ozone has accumulated heavily at the top of the image due to the abundance of white clouds during the cold polar nights of winter.
The tan valley of Mariners is again visible at the lower left, along with many impact craters.
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NASA said the images will help explore Mars’ upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and interaction with the sun and solar wind, in hopes of explaining the loss of Martian atmosphere into space.
It will give scientists insight into the history of the Martian atmosphere and climate, liquid water and habitability.
MAVEN was launched in November 2013 and entered planetary orbit in September 2014.