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Sunday, December 18, 2005



Martian Auroras Confirmed

An aurora borealis on Earth.
An aurora borealis on Earth.
Credit: Gary Boyles, RASC Ottawa Centre
Researchers at UC Berkeley have confirmed that aurora borealii, known as Northern or Southern Lights on Earth, also occur on Mars. Caused by high-energy particles being trapped by Earth's magnetic field, they have been found on other planets such as Jupiter but were thought to be impossible due to the lack of a global magnetic field on Mars. However, hundreds of events were seen occurring in the southern hemisphere near large formations of magnetically charged rocks. Emanating in the ultraviolet range, they would not be visible to humans, but other animals might be able to observe them.

This finding helps confirm data collected by orbiting satellites concerning the strength of Mars' magnetic field, and is interesting in its own right.

(More info: San Francisco Chronicle)


- posted by Brian @ 0:26 EST