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Mars dazzles with its green night glow

Mars dazzles with its green night glow

The European Space Agency has made a startling observation using a probe in Mars orbit: for the first time, a visible nightglow has been detected in the Red Planet’s atmosphere. This bathes the sky in a beautiful green glow.

ESA probe detects Mars’ night glow

Night lights from Earth are known to be a more discreet natural phenomenon than the better-known northern lights. Scientists had suspected that a homogeneous green haze could be seen in the atmosphere on Mars as well. However, until now these have not been observed in the optical spectrum.

Thanks to the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). European Space Agency Mars has now revealed its glowing night sky for the first time. “When future astronauts explore the polar regions of Mars, they will see a green glow in the night sky,” is the beautiful description given by the European Space Agency of the new images.

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The reason for the observation was the discovery of Mars Express, which observed a night glow in the infrared range a decade ago. In 2020, TGO successfully observed green oxygen atoms high above the dayside of Mars.

As the recently published paper describes, one can now observe how these particles migrate from the dayside to the nightside and reassemble there in the lower atmosphere.

“This emission is due to the recombination of oxygen atoms that were formed in the summer atmosphere and transported by winds to high winter latitudes, at altitudes ranging from 40 to 60 kilometers in the Martian atmosphere,” explains Lorien Soret, part of the team that created this emission. The discovery was published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

ExoMars gas rover tracking: Night glow on Mars Night Glow: Earth…
ExoMars gas rover tracking: Night glow on Mars …and Mars (artistic representation)

In addition to beautiful images, nightglow also provides scientists with important information. Accordingly, it helps to shed light on the composition and dynamics of a region of the atmosphere that is difficult to measure, and allows conclusions to be drawn about oxygen density.


  • ESA probe detects Mars night lights
  • Green glow in the atmosphere of Mars
  • First visual observation
  • TGO reveals the glowing night sky
  • Origin: Recombination of the oxygen atom
  • Migration of particles from the day side to the night side
  • Important discoveries about the atmosphere of Mars

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