It is very interesting though that the aurora is in the northern hemisphere.
MAVEN's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) observed what scientists have named "Christmas lights." For five days just before Dec. 25, MAVEN saw a bright ultraviolet auroral glow spanning Mars' northern hemisphere.
Aurora, known on Earth as northern or southern lights, are caused by energetic particles like electrons crashing down into the atmosphere and causing the gas to glow.
"What's especially surprising about the aurora we saw is how deep in the atmosphere it occurs - much deeper than at Earth or elsewhere on Mars
,” said Arnaud Stiepen, IUVS team member at the University of Colorado. “The electrons producing it must be really energetic."
The source of the energetic particles appears to be the sun. MAVEN's Solar Energetic Particle instrument detected a huge surge in energetic electrons at the onset of the aurora. Billions of years ago, Mars lost a global protective magnetic field like Earth has, so solar particles can directly strike the atmosphere. The electrons producing the aurora have about 100 times more energy than you get from a spark of house current, so they can penetrate deeply in the atmosphere.
and the dust has some odd things as well:
http://www.nasa.gov/press/2015/march/na ... ound-mars/
The presence of the dust at orbital altitudes from about 93 miles (150 kilometers) to 190 miles (300 kilometers) above the surface was not predicted. Although the source and composition of the dust are unknown, there is no hazard to MAVEN and other spacecraft orbiting Mars.
"If the dust originates from the atmosphere, this suggests we are missing some fundamental process in the Martian atmosphere," said Laila Andersson of the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospherics and Space Physics (CU LASP), Boulder, Colorado.
The cloud was detected by the spacecraft’s Langmuir Probe and Waves (LPW) instrument, and has been present the whole time MAVEN has been in operation. It is unknown if the cloud is a temporary phenomenon or something long lasting. The cloud density is greatest at lower altitudes. However, even in the densest areas it is still very thin. So far, no indication of its presence has been seen in observations from any of the other MAVEN instruments.
Possible sources for the observed dust include dust wafted up (?) from the atmosphere; dust coming from Phobos and Deimos, the two moons of Mars; dust moving in the solar wind away from the sun; or debris orbiting the sun from comets. However, no known process on Mars can explain the appearance of dust in the observed locations from any of these sources.
Of course nasa press releases and containing commentary have to be taken as they are.
But at Nature it is quite the same, imagine the shock.
NASA's MAVEN spacecraft has discovered a dust cloud billowing over Mars, up to 1,000 kilometres above the planet's surface. The dust does not threaten spacecraft orbiting the red planet, but the unexpected finding poses big challenges to atmospheric researchers, who are trying to explain where the cloud came from.
The spacecraft arrived at Mars last September to fly through and study the planet's upper atmosphere. One of its instruments, called the Langmuir Probe and Wave instrument, measures the densities and temperatures of electrons. It has picked up small whiffs of plasma that form when dust hits the spacecraft and vaporizes, says Jakosky. Similar tiny impacts have been measured elsewhere in the Solar System by other spacecraft, such as the Voyager and Cassini probes, but have never previously been found at Mars.
The dust seems to be concentrated between about 150 and 500 kilometres above the Martian surface, and there is more on the day side, the hemisphere lit by the Sun, than on the night side of Mars. It has been seen ever since the spacecraft arrived at Mars, so it is not related to Comet Siding Spring, which whizzed past the planet in October and dumped a load of fresh dust in the Martian atmosphere.
http://www.nature.com/news/mystery-dust ... rs-1.17152
Jasper Halekas, a space physicist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, says that the MAVEN findings are already rewriting what scientists know about the magnetic realms around Mars. “It's not your grandfather's magnetosphere,” he says.
So we had patchy aurora's near magnetic areas in the southern hemisphere, but now also in the
magnetically deficient northern hemisphere. And at lower altitudes as well, but because the particles are
And what about the dust blob seen by Hubble? And those famous hazy skies of Mars seen on the images
of Mars landers?
Allthough maybe, remembering the stark red images from the first landers and comparing
those with images today, I might have an idea where all that dust in space came from.
Maybe it is camera-shy dust.