Who knew that the red planet also glows green? 

Scientists in a study announced the first-ever discovery of a green glow in the atmosphere of Mars. It's also the first time such a glow has been spotted anywhere other than Earth.

A European spacecraft in orbit around Mars – the European Space Agency's Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) – spotted the phenomenon.

The glow, which is similar to the night glow seen around Earth’s atmosphere from space, is triggered by interactions between the sun’s light and oxygen molecules in Mars’ atmosphere, NBC News said.

"This emission has been predicted to exist at Mars for around 40 years – and, thanks to TGO, we’ve found it," study lead Jean-Claude Gérard of the Université de Liège in Belgium said in a statement.

On Earth, glowing oxygen is produced during polar auroras when energetic electrons from interplanetary space hit the upper atmosphere, according to the European Space Agency. This oxygen-driven emission of light gives auroras their beautiful and characteristic green hue.

The aurora, however, is just one way in which planetary atmospheres light up. The atmospheres of planets including Earth and Mars glow constantly during both day and night as sunlight interacts with atoms and molecules within the atmosphere. 

Summer solstice: Nature Astronomy. 

Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
Read or Share this story: /story/news/nation/2020/06/17/mars-green-glow-discovered-atmosphere/3205895001/