Mars got burned up by a recent solar storm

The sun fired several bursts of radiation in May. When they collided with Earth’s magnetic bubble, the world was treated to a rainbow of northern and southern lights. But our planet wasn’t the only one in the solar firing line.

A few days after the Earth’s light show, another series of explosions The sun was shouted at. This time, on May 20, a terrible storm hit Mars.

Observed from Mars, “this was the strongest solar energetic particle event we have observed to date,” said Shannon Currie“We hope that we can keep getting to the next level of NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Orbiter, or MAVEN,” said Dr.

When the barrage arrived, it triggered an aurora that covered Mars from pole to pole in a shimmering glow. Dr. Curry said that if they were standing on the surface of Mars, “astronauts could see these auroras.” Based on scientific knowledge of atmospheric chemistry, he and other scientists say, observers on Mars would have seen a jade-green light show, although no color cameras captured it on the surface.

But it was very fortunate that there were no astronauts there. Mars’ thin atmosphere and the absence of a global magnetic shield meant that its surface, as registered by NASA’s Curiosity rover, was loaded with radiation doses Equivalent to 30 chest X-rays – It is not a lethal dose, but certainly not pleasant for the human body.

While last month’s auroras were spectacular, they also served as a reminder that Mars can be a dangerous, radiation-ridden place and that future astronauts must be cautious. “These solar storms are very powerful,” Dr. Curry said.

Lava tubes – long caves formed by volcanic activity – could provide Mars travellers with a safe haven from solar storms. But the Sun’s harmful particles can sometimes reach Mars within minutes, so Earthlings have to be careful.

In other words, if you’re an astronaut on Mars, “you should stay up to date on your space weather forecasts,” he said. James O’DonoghuePlanetary astronomer at the University of Reading in England, Dr.

When the mega-eruption happened on May 20, it was immediately clear that it was terrible. First a powerful solar flare reached Mars, bathing it in X-rays and gamma rays. It was immediately followed by a powerful coronal mass ejection – a buckshot of charged particles from the sun. “They seemed very fast to me,” he said matthew owensSpace physicist at the University of Reading, Dr.

When the particles from the solar salvo reach humanity’s home, they become trapped in Earth’s magnetic field and spiral down into the north and south magnetic poles. There, they collide with various gas molecules in the atmosphere, temporarily energizing them and releasing bursts of myriad, visible colors.

Mars lost its magnetic field long ago when its iron-rich interior stopped stirring, so the solar bombardment in May was unstoppable. “There’s nothing to stop these particles from getting into the atmosphere,” he said Nick SchneiderLead scientist working on the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph on MAVEN at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The global hit caused auroras to erupt across the planet, a phenomenon documented by the MAVEN orbiter. Strong ultraviolet glowWhereas a light green colour would be visible on the surface upon leaving the atmosphere Excited oxygen atoms,

Some of Mars’ robotic inhabitants suffered more unpleasant effects from the storm. Charged particles hit Curiosity’s navigation cameras and the star tracker cameras of the Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellites, covering them all with “snow”-like static.

Solar storms can also damage spacecraft’s solar panels. The May storm was no exception. “Everybody’s solar panels were damaged,” Dr. Curry said. He added that a solar storm like the one on May 20 “cause about as much damage as we typically see in a year.”

None of the spacecraft were significantly damaged – and the scientific data they recorded was warmly received. But these orbiters don’t always make it through the sun’s fury unscathed. “The science team is thrilled whenever we see these events,” Dr. Curry said. “The spacecraft operations team is less thrilled.”

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