A peculiar green glow has been spotted around the atmosphere of Mars for the first time.
The mystic emerald emission has been seen around Earth before, but it does mark the first time it has been seen on a foreign planet.
The glow was spotted by the European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO).
And a new study revealed the glow had never been seen before on another planet, reports Space.com.
Study lead author, Jean-Claude Gérard, of the Université de Liège in Belgium, said in a statement: “One of the brightest emissions seen on Earth stems from night glow.
“More specifically, from oxygen atoms emitting a particular wavelength of light that has never been seen around another planet.
“However, this emission has been predicted to exist at Mars for around 40 years — and, thanks to TGO, we’ve found it.”
The emission is a characteristic of oxygen and was spotted by the TGO which is orbiting Mars.
The display has been compared to the Northern Lights – or the Aurora Borealis which can be seen at high latitudes on Earth.
However, these are generated by charged particles from the sun bashing into molecules high up in the atmosphere, reports Space.com.
In contrast, the night glow is when the sunlight meets atoms in the air which creates a continuous light – this is difficult to spot on Earth.
“Night glow occurs as broken-apart molecules recombine, whereas day glow arises when the sun’s light directly excites atoms and molecules such as nitrogen and oxygen,” European Space Agency (ESA) officials wrote in the same statement.
Gérard and his colleagues discovered the green glow around Mars after using TGO’s Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery (NOMAD) instrument suite, which includes the Ultraviolet and Visible Spectrometer (UVIS).
From this, they were able to study the air in Mars from April to December last year.
“Previous observations hadn’t captured any kind of green glow at Mars, so we decided to reorient the UVIS nadir channel to point at the ‘edge’ of Mars, similar to the perspective you see in images of Earth taken from the ISS,” study co-author and NOMAD principal investigator Ann Carine Vandaele, of the Institut Royal d’Aéronomie Spatiale de Belgique in Belgium, said in the statement.