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Friday, June 10, 2005

European Scientists Find Aurora's on Mars

[Media Source*]

Mars Express was flying 270 kilometers (168 miles) above the planet when SPICAM's field of view was positioned just above the limb, or edge, of the planet during the Aug. 11, 2004 orbit. SPICAM, a spectrograph, detected a 30-kilometer wide (19-mile wide) auroral emission, which comes mainly from excited carbon monoxide molecules, 140 kilometers (87 miles) above the planet.

Although this may not seem like a "huge event," discovering aurora's on the Martian planet is a big deal. This is because where aurora's are on a planet, so is the magnetic field which is helpful when one considers the dangers of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

"Mars has no internally generated, planetary-scale magnetic field. It has what are called 'crustal magnetic anomalies' scattered around the Martian surface, remnants of what presumably was Mars' planetary-scale magnetic field that was active when the planet was younger. These crustal pieces are the leftovers of that earlier field." [University of Arizona scientist Bill Sandel, a co-investigator on SPICAM]

If these magnetic fields can be "mapped," then future colonists will not have to worry about building an artificial magnetic shield in order to not only survive on the surface of the planet, but grow crops and raise animals as well. Although the Martian planet is far from hospitable, being able to take ultraviolet radiation off the list will go a long way's towards colonizing the planet.

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By Darnell Clayton • 2:16 AM • Email Post • •


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