Sometimes, we just stand in awe of how nature unfolds its mysteries. There are so many phenomena that exist on our beautiful blue planet that we can’t even count. Even simple things like the smell of the earth after heavy rain – also known as petrichor – are something beyond peace. What we see on the earth is most of the time hidden. But strange phenomena that occur in the sky are seen all the time. Astronomy is a beautiful science and this is something every scientist, philosopher, and artist would agree upon. From stars to planets and galaxies upon galaxies, it’s nothing but pure wonders. One such wonder in astronomy and beauty in the skies that roof us all is the aurora borealis. If you don’t know what that is, Northern lights are what we are talking about.
It feels as if someone has spilled radium paint all over the sky, but somehow the paint is alive, much like the earth. The strange phenomenon also called southern lights or eastern lights is really a masterpiece created by nature. There are also equatorial lights and mid-latitude lights that are present all around our earth. If you reside in parts of Iceland or the tip of Canada, you would know the true beauty of these lights. But to explain the phenomenon as to why this happens is pretty simple. It’s like art. You just paint colours on a blank sheet and it becomes beautiful. But you need to paint or hold the brush in a certain way to create a beautiful painting. Likewise, the aurora borealis happens in the same way. It depends on the basis of matter, electrons, protons, and neutrons. It’s basically a mixture of enlightened protons and electrons which paint the scenario.
To explain it simply, there are millions and billions of protons and electrons which are continuously being fired from the sun. They reach the surfaces of the planets and have their own work to do in the working of the cosmos. As they enter the earth, they electrically charge the atmosphere where all the stuff related to ozone happens. But in certain parts of the world, because of the earth’s magnetic field, these overwhelming streams of electrons and protons become centered in a certain hypothetical line and form waves. This buffeting creates the wave of paint which we see as the northern lights. Now, the sun’s continuous bombardment of protons and electrons isn’t just specific to the earth. We have 8 more planets if you count Pluto, all of which receive the same blessings. Surprisingly, the phenomenon is considered to be special for the earth’s surface but the planet dear to Elon Musk also has the same response.
Mars also has aurora borealis on its surface. Although the speculation of this phenomenon was just a theory until a very a few months ago. We just theorized that it could be possible because of the semblance in the earth’s and Mars’s magnetic fields. But recently, a spacecraft that hovers over the Martian orbit – Hope, has captured some jaw-dropping images of the aurora borealis of the Martian sky. The spacecraft from the UAE has been orbiting Mars for months to capture the planet’s atmosphere and other data for research. Many images were captured of the dancing lights. By the way, there are northern, southern, eastern, western, and even multi-latitude lights on the red giant.
This discovery might be a key to discovering the charged particles in the Martian atmosphere, as well as the effect of the strength of the magnetic field of the red planet. The officials have already released the beautiful pictures on Wednesday after the images were received and processed here on earth. Hessa Al-Matroushi, the celebrity scientist who leads the mission of the first interplanetary space missions has given several comments on this phenomenon. He has himself confirmed that these images would give a new light to the study going on about the skies of Mars. The main goal was to determine whether the atmosphere on Mars would somehow be accessible for humans and plants, and is a crucial discovery that would play a huge role in the study of charged particles in the atmosphere. The pictures would also reveal significant data on the solar activity of the planet.
Since aurora borealis deals with the stream of electrons and protons being fired from the sun, the colours and types of the lights seen in the Martian sky would give a detailed insight into how the planet reacts with the sun. Moreover, the charge of the atmosphere as to whether it would be filled with electrons or protons, whichever might be in excess would be known by the colour of lights. Although the magnetism of the planet has died several billion years ago, it still has some left on the surface. The magnetism of a planet comes from molten iron at the planet’s core. When it comes to the core of this planet it has already been cooled and the magnetism has almost died. Almost. Because the distribution of iron was uneven on the surface of the planet, some parts have huge chunks of molten iron due to its atmospheric temperature. This creates magnetic waves for the planet. This is another reason as to why our compasses won’t work on this planet.
These magnetic waves are the ones responsible for the aurora borealis in the atmosphere. Since the release of the photos, many scientists have tried to explain the phenomenon as to why it has happened in the Martian atmosphere, and what role magnetism has to play in this phenomenon. If you dip a ball in mud and spin it off, the mud attached to the ball 11 uneven and patchy. This is the same with the magnetism of the red giant. It’s uneven and patchy with the state of iron that has moulted in some parts and has hardened in some. This has become a hassle for scientists to develop a satellite for its orbits. Deighan, professor, and researcher at the University of Colorado has commented on a clear explanation for the magnetic character of the planet. He says that if you take a huge magnetic bar, that would be how the earth is.
And, if you take a huge bag and just stuff magnets regardless of their shape, size and strength then that would be the perfect example of how the magnetism of the red giant works. Now since they are magnets of different shapes and sizes, and they are present in the core of the planet, a strange phenomenon arises. The phenomena are such that mars are like a curled ball of magnets that send wavelengths of the magnetic field in various magnitudes and directions. This means that even the magnetic field of the planet is uneven. This causes a strong wind to generate that sweeps away all the atoms and molecules inside the atmosphere but in such a way that they cause storms and rains of dust on the surface. These winds provide all the dust and ions necessary for the surface of the planet.
But some charges get stuck in the upper atmosphere and the upper orbits of the planet. Although in a very small amount, the magnetic fields attract these charges generating a stream of charge which then forms the waves of light. The aurora borealis happens in the same way as it happens on the earth’s surface. Now, this isn’t new, the theories didn’t just arise from mere speculations. Many artificial satellites that we have launched in the martian atmosphere have caught this phenomenon although at a very small level and mostly from above. The uniqueness of hope is that it orbits way below within the planet and it’s the sole reason as to why we can see the nightlife of the red giant. An important thing to note here is that the mission of Hope wasn’t to click pictures of the Northern lights of the planet. Its discovery was like penicillin. Completely by accident.
The main aim of the project was to study the Martian surface and its atmosphere. Since mars don’t have a particular gravity that can hold all the gases within, the atmosphere leaks into space. This can cause a dynamic effect and thus Hope was sent to study these effects. But some scientists thought that this would be possible too. The main reason for this is the fact that the probe works by picking light of the far ultraviolet spectrum of the electromagnetic waves. The probe does pick up activities of oxygen, nitrogen, and fluorine in the atmosphere. Thus, it was possible that the probe could take good pictures of the lights in the Martian atmosphere. So it isn’t like how we see on earth or in photos from the earth., the pictures are more likely to be like MRI scans. There is also a satellite from NASA that orbits the red giant, which can also take pictures of the aurora borealis. By combining the data of both the probes, calculations regarding the solar activity would be much easier and better.