US space agency has released breathtaking images taken as a part of the Maven mission. The latest pictures of the Red Planet show the ultraviolet glow of the Martian Atmosphere in great detail and revealing some previously unseen features. The pictures tell how high winds circulate high altitudes of the planet.
The faint glow even in the complete absence of external light is a common planetary phenomenon. The red planet emits ultraviolet radiation after sun break because of a chemical reaction which takes place in the daytime. The ultraviolet light radiated from the sun breaks down molecules of CO2 and N2 and this result in the atoms being carried out around the planet by high altitude wind patterns which encircle the planet.
In the night time, the winds bring down these atoms to lower altitudes where the nascent Nitrogen and oxygen react to form nitric oxide molecules. The reaction releases extra energy which manifests itself as ultraviolet light.
The images show about seven hours of Mars rotation which is one fourth of a Mars Day. The left part of Mars is in the morning, and the right side is the afternoon. The prominent volcanoes of the planet are clearly visible with the top covered with white clouds. The tallest volcano, Olympus Mons is also visible in the form of a prominent dark region with a white cloud on the summit during the day.
MAVEN which is an acronym for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission has sent back hundreds of such images in recent times and has sent some of the best ultra high resolutions ultraviolet coverage of Mars ever obtained. The spacecraft arrived on the red planet on Sept. 21, 2014. The pictures will unravel some questions like how winds on Mars circulate at such high altitudes, how ozone concentration in the atmosphere differs from season-to-season and how clouds are formed over volcanoes on the planet.