“Epic solar storm on Mars”

in Popular STEMlast month

“Epic solar storm on Mars”


NASA has published images of the “epic solar storm on Mars” the title is verbatim, they were captured by Robert Curiosity with its black and white navigation cameras to be exact, it also coincided with a light dust storm, the interesting part They are those black and white specks, those dots that are seen in the image.


Those points that you are seeing are the energetic particles of a solar storm that impacted on the surface of Mars and hit those particles, it was captured by the Rober Curiosity camera, the largest event occurred on May 20 with a level X12 flare, Specifically, it did not hit the earth because the earth was in another position but it was going to hit Mars and this is the result of the class X flares.

Class x flares are the most powerful and are the ones that can also expel coronal mass ejections, which are clouds of plasma particles, that is, energetically charged particles, and which are the ones that ultimately ended up reaching Mars and colliding with the camera. of the rover that those little specks are.

Fortunately, in this case, Curiosity does not need to clean the solar panels, because it does not have solar panels, it is powered by nuclear energy and with a plutonium battery, which means that the solar panels do not need to be cleaned in the event of a sandstorm, it is more resistant. In this case, you don't have that problem; The problem is that the plutonium battery lasts 17 years at most.

While solar panels can work for practically decades, of course with their respective wear and tear over time, but the resistance is much greater, the problem they have is that a dust storm comes and covers them with dust and you no longer have energy.

It is not something very special that the visible light camera captures the flashes, the particles that collide are energetic particles and produce a flash that the camera captures, this has also been done by humans, astronauts often report that even when they are asleep or with Closed eyes see flashes in their eyes, sparks, and those sparks are those energetic particles that collide with their retina.

On Mars there is no magnetic field with which those radiation particles that collided in the camera and that, if we were on Mars, even with our eyes closed we could see those flashes, specifically a radiation level of 8100 micro grays was measured, which is equivalent at 30 chest x-rays, it is not a fatal level, but it is not a healthy dose, it is somewhat worrying. Therefore, what is planned in the case of astronauts who go to Mars is to have good space weather forecasts.

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