On June 22, NASA released two new images of Mars taken by the MAVEN mission, but the two new images looked glowing and strange than usual for the Red Planet.
But the agency explained that the two images were taken in the ultraviolet range, and each was taken at different points along Mars' orbit around the sun.
According to an official press release by the agency, the ultraviolet spectrophotometer (IUVS) installed on the MAVEN vehicle took the two images between 2022 and 2023, at wavelengths between 110 and 340 nanometers.
One image shows how the Antarctic ice sheet appears shrinking due to the relative warmth of summer (NASA)
So how do we see these images?
But to make these wavelengths visible to the human eye, the image is readjusted and different brightnesses are set to 3 bands of ultraviolet wavelengths in the three colors known to our eyes: red, green, and blue.
According to the agency, by observing the planet at ultraviolet wavelengths, it is possible to study the atmosphere of Mars and display its surface features in more accurate ways.
For example, one of the two images shows how the Antarctic ice sheet appears shrinking due to the relative warmth of summer.
Besides, it shows how southern summer warming and dust storms push water vapor to very high altitudes, which explains Maven's discovery of the loss of so-called "booster hydrogen" from Mars at this time of year.
MAVEN mission aims to explore the atmosphere of the Red Planet and how it interacts with the solar wind (NASA)
What does Maven do on Mars?
MAVEN launched on an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA on November 18, 2013, with the task of analyzing the planet's ionosphere.
The MAVEN mission is primarily aimed at exploring the Red Planet's atmosphere and how it interacts with the solar wind, and the ultimate goal is to use this data to determine how volatile substances from the Martian atmosphere are lost on the Martian climate over time, thus contributing to a better understanding of Earth's climate.
Scientists on this scale believe that Mars was once a planet as blue as Earth, which retained an atmosphere that may have been suitable for hosting life, but what happened to get it to the present stage where the planet became more like a barren, barren and cold desert remains a secret that Maven and many other missions are trying to answer.
But could Earth one day turn to the fate of Mars when it lost the components of its atmosphere over time to outer space? This is another question that scientists are trying to answer in this context.