MAVEN discovers aurora, high dust cloud at Mars

IUVS_aurora_1The MAVEN spacecraft has observed two unexpected phenomena in the Martian atmosphere: an unexplained high-altitude dust cloud and aurora that reaches deep into the Martian atmosphere. The presence of the dust at orbital altitudes from about 93 miles (150 kilometers) to 190 miles (300 kilometers) above the surface was not predicted. Although the source and composition of the dust are unknown, there is no hazard to MAVEN and other spacecraft orbiting Mars.

“If the dust originates from the atmosphere, this suggests we are missing some fundamental process in the Martian atmosphere,” said Laila Andersson of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospherics and Space Physics (CU/LASP). [More at link]


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