MAVEN spots an aurora over Mars

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As much as humanity knows about , the planet is still chock-full of surprises. Just ask NASA: University of Colorado researchers using its MAVEN probe have phenomena in the Martian skies that you would never see on Earth. For one, there are auroras that are so energetic (their electrons are 100 times more powerful than a spark of house current) that they plunge far deeper into the atmosphere than back home, or even other places on . Scientists suspect that is to blame — doesn’t have a protective magnetic field like Earth does, so the solar wind sometimes hits with full .

Another may be tougher to crack. MAVEN has spotted very thin dust clouds flying at very high altitudes of 93 to 190 miles, where they shouldn’t exist based on the current of how Mars . The clouds could have been kicked up from the ground, but they could also come from Mars’ moons or even comet debris. Whatever the causes, both the dust and the auroras that there’s still a lot to about one of Earth’s closest neighbors.