Stunning Mars Views Revealed by NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft in Captivating Pictures

NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) explorer recently captured new ultraviolet images of Mars from its orbit around the Sun. These images will provide valuable insights into the Martian atmosphere and allow for a unique view of surface features by using ultraviolet wavelengths.

According to NASA, the MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) obtained these global views of Mars in 2022 and 2023 when the planet was at opposite ends of its elliptical orbit.

The IUVS instrument measures wavelengths beyond the visible spectrum, ranging from 110 to 340 nanometers. To make these wavelengths visible and easier to interpret, the images are rendered using varying brightness levels of three ultraviolet wavelength ranges represented as red, green, and blue.

The first image was taken in July 2022 during the southern hemisphere’s summer season, which occurs when Mars is closest to the Sun. This summer season is caused by the tilt of Mars’ rotational axis, similar to seasons on Earth.

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Image Credits: NASA/LASP/CU Boulder

In this image, the Argyre Basin, one of Mars’ deepest craters, can be seen at the bottom left, filled with atmospheric haze depicted as pale pink. The deep canyons of Valles Marineris appear at the top left, filled with clouds colored tan in this image. The southern polar ice cap is also visible at the bottom in white.

The second image captures Mars’ northern hemisphere and was taken in January 2023 after Mars had reached the farthest point in its orbit from the Sun. The image shows an abundance of white clouds due to the rapidly changing seasons in the north polar region.

Image Credits: NASA/LASP/CU Boulder

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Image Credits: NASA/LASP/CU Boulder

In this image, the deep canyons of Valles Marineris can be seen in tan at the lower left, along with many craters. Ozone, which appears magenta in this UV view, has built up during the northern winter’s polar nights and is destroyed in northern spring by chemical reactions with water vapor.

MAVEN spacecraft was launched in November 2013 and entered Mars’ orbit in September 2014. Its mission is to explore the planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and interactions with the Sun and solar wind, focusing on understanding the loss of the Martian atmosphere to space. The MAVEN team is preparing to celebrate the spacecraft’s 10th year at Mars in September 2024.

Updated: 25 Jun 2023, 11:26 AM IST

 

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