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Science. 2015 Nov 6;350(6261):aad0313. doi: 10.1126/science.aad0313.

Discovery of diffuse aurora on Mars.

Author information

1
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Boulder, CO 80303, USA. nick.schneider@lasp.colorado.edu.
2
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Boulder, CO 80303, USA.
3
Space Sciences Lab, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
4
Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP), CNRS, Toulouse, France. University Paul Sabatier, IRAP, CNRS, Toulouse, France.
5
Computational Physics, Inc, Springfield, VA 22151, USA.
6
Space Science Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375, USA.
7
Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, Guyancourt, France.
8
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
9
Center for Space Physics, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

Abstract

Planetary auroras reveal the complex interplay between an atmosphere and the surrounding plasma environment. We report the discovery of low-altitude, diffuse auroras spanning much of Mars' northern hemisphere, coincident with a solar energetic particle outburst. The Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph, a remote sensing instrument on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, detected auroral emission in virtually all nightside observations for ~5 days, spanning nearly all geographic longitudes. Emission extended down to ~60 kilometer (km) altitude (1 microbar), deeper than confirmed at any other planet. Solar energetic particles were observed up to 200 kilo--electron volts; these particles are capable of penetrating down to the 60 km altitude. Given minimal magnetic fields over most of the planet, Mars is likely to exhibit auroras more globally than Earth.

PMID:
26542577
DOI:
10.1126/science.aad0313
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