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Epic Martian solar storm sparks global aurora, doubles planet’s radiation levels

Mars was hit by an unexpected blast from the sun in September, doubling radiation levels on the surface and causing an incredibly bright aurora over the planet.

The “solar event” took place on September 11, and was observed by Nasa’s missions in orbit and on Mars’ surface.

Nasa’s distributed set of science missions is in the right place to detect activity on the sun and examine the effects of such solar events at Mars as never possible before,” said Elsayed Talaat, program scientist for NASA’s Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission.

 

The aurora was more than 25 times brighter than any previously observed by MAVEN, which has been studying the Martian atmosphere’s interaction with the solar wind since 2014.

The strong solar blast also more than doubled radiation levels on the Red Planet’s surface, according to readings by Nasa’s on-the-ground mission, the Curiosity rover.

 

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