Mars in ultraviolet

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Data from the Mars orbiter MAVEN have given scientists their first detailed look at the red planet in ultraviolet wavelengths.

New global images of Mars from NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission being led by CU Boulder show the ultraviolet glow from the Martian atmosphere in unprecedented detail, revealing dynamic, previously invisible behavior.

They include the first images of “nightglow” that can be used to show how winds circulate at high altitudes. Additionally, dayside ultraviolet imagery from the spacecraft shows how ozone amounts change over the seasons and how afternoon clouds form over giant Martian volcanoes. The images were taken by the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) on MAVEN.

The build-up of clouds over Mars’ four big volcanoes is especially interesting, since it is thought this water vapor likely comes from underground ice left over from glaciers that were once on the mountains’ slopes. A very short video of that build up can be seen, below the fold.

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