An unexpected Massive Solar Storm hit Mars.
A solar storm was hitting Mars on September 11, being one of the most unexpected storms recorded until now. It is known that Sun’s magnetic poles flip every 11 years, and the period between these events is known as the solar cycle.
On this period the Sun is approaching its solar minium, meaning there are no solar storms expected.
The image shows the intensity of ultraviolet light on Mars before (left) and during (right) the solar storm.
Producing an aurora 25 times brighter than any other observed before, the storm was observed by the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (known as MAVEN) orbiter, which is studying the planet’s atmosphere since 2014.
“This is exactly the type of event both missions were designed to study, and it’s the biggest we’ve seen on the surface so far. It will improve our understanding of how such solar events affect the Martian environment, from the top of the atmosphere all the way down to the surface.” ” said Don Hassler, RAD Principal Investigator.
“The current solar cycle has been an odd one, with less activity than usual during the peak, and now we have this large event as we’re approaching solar minimum. To protect our astronauts on Mars in the future, we need to continue to provide this type of space weather monitoring there.” said Sonal Jain of the University of Colorado Boulder’s, member of the instrument team for MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph, in the NASA release.