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Production of oxygen nightglow on Mars

Production of oxygen nightglow on Mars

Date: 22 March 2012
Copyright: ESA

The OMEGA instrument on Mars Express has detected infrared emission, at a wavelength of 1.27 microns, on the night side of Mars, above the polar regions.

This animation depicts the process that is believed to account for this nightglow:

When exposed to solar ultraviolet radiation above an altitude of 70 km, carbon dioxide molecules - the main atmospheric constituent of Mars' atmosphere - are split into carbon monoxide and oxygen atoms. Those oxygen atoms (depicted as red spheres) are transported by a gigantic Hadley cell, which features an ascending branch above the daytime summer pole and a descending branch over the winter pole, which is in the night hemisphere. The oxygen atoms recombine into molecular oxygen in the descending branch of the Hadley cell, at an altitude of 30-50 km, emitting infrared radiation at 1.27 microns.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
5-Jul-2020 12:04 UT

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