James Webb’s first image of Mars revealed the secret of this planet’s atmosphere

These images show the visible disk of Mars illuminated by the sun from the perspective of the near-infrared camera. (NIRCam) shows and can provide planetary scientists with a unique view of the Earth to be used alongside the observations of Mars rovers such as Persistence and orbiters of this planet.

p> The first images and spectroscopy results of the James Webb Space Telescope from Mars were published on September 19 (28 September) at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022. These images and measurements were recorded on September 5, 2022 (14 Shahrivar) at a distance of about 1.6 million kilometers from Mars.

These images show the visible disk of Mars illuminated by the sun from the perspective of the near-infrared camera. (NIRCam) shows and can provide planetary scientists with a unique view of the Earth to be used alongside the observations of Mars rovers such as Persistence and orbiters of this planet.

Because Mars is relatively close and very bright. , not an easy offense for James Webb, which is designed to see very distant and faint objects. Giuliano Liuzzi, scientist and senior researcher at NASA's Planetary Systems Laboratory at the Goddard Space Flight Center, said in this context: "Mars is so bright that it is challenging to see."

So because the light Mars' bright infrared did not harm James Webb's instruments, scientists used very short exposures to observe the red planet. In this way, only a small amount of light reached the web detectors, and then special methods were used to analyze the collected data.

Leozzi continued, referring to this: "We see a remarkable resolution thanks to the diffraction limit. The wonder of a space telescope has become possible. Now we can see the whole planet.

Day and night observations of the Red Planet

In a recent effort, James Webb managed to capture high-resolution images and spectra that astronomers use to study short-term phenomena such as patterns Martian weather, dust storms, and even the changes caused by the planet's seasons require it.

In addition, the telescope can observe events that occur at different times during a Martian day and night. Recorded during a single observation at sunset and during the night.

These first James Webb images of Mars show a region in the planet's eastern hemisphere at two different wavelengths. The short-wavelength image is influenced by sunlight and shows details of the Martian surface similar to those seen in visible light. Among these features, we can mention the Huygens impact crater with a width of about 450 km and the dark volcanic rock in Siret Boghor.

BingMag.com James Webb’s first image of Mars revealed the secret of this planet’s atmosphere

The Webb Space Telescope's Nircham camera has captured the light that Mars emits at longer infrared wavelengths as it loses heat. The brightness of this light is related to the temperature of Mars and its atmosphere, and the brightest and hottest area is where the Sun is almost directly above the planet.

Moving towards the polar regions of Mars, which are less exposed to the sun and especially In the northern hemisphere of the planet, which is currently in the middle of the Martian winter, the brightness decreases.

But this light reaching James Webb is not the only amount related to the temperature of the planet. The images collected by the telescope can also provide clues about the chemical composition of the Martian atmosphere and surface.

Atmospheric Clues in Mars Hell

Analyzing the optical spectrum of Mars with data collected by the telescope James Webb Spacecraft can help astronomers determine the composition of a planet's atmosphere and surface. Based on this, Liuzzi and his colleagues found that the "Hella Basin" or "Hell Basin" with a width of 1930 km, even in the hottest hours of the day, looks darker than its surroundings.

He "One of the fascinating things is that you can see a dark spot that represents a basin on Mars," said Sella. We didn't expect this because we were seeing a very bright area that has now become darker. This is actually not a familiar thermal effect in the Hellas region.

Researchers found that this darkness observed in such a perfect structure is the result of light passing through the Martian atmosphere and absorbing carbon dioxide. "The Hellas Basin has a lower elevation and therefore experiences higher air pressure," Liuzzi said. This higher pressure, due to an effect called pressure expansion, leads to the prevention of heat emission in this wavelength range. It will be very interesting to understand and separate these competing effects in the recorded data.

The new images also demonstrate the James Webb Space Telescope's ability to study Mars using a technique called activity-based measurement spectroscopy. The Near Infrared Spectrophotometer (NIRSpec) instrument shows.

Because various elements emit and absorb light at specific wavelengths, planetary scientists can use spectroscopy to study atmospheric compositions. The preliminary results obtained show information about Martian dust, ice clouds, the composition of the atmosphere and the type of rocks on the planet's surface.

BingMag.com James Webb’s first image of Mars revealed the secret of this planet’s atmosphere

Mars Spectroscopy by the James Webb Telescope
Credit: Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Mars JWST/GTO team

Referring to the presence of methane on Mars, Liuzzi noted that early observations from Earth and Mars rovers provide evidence of this composition, albeit sporadically. While measurements by the ExoMars Gas Detection Orbiter have failed to confirm this, and ground-based observations are complicated by the presence of methane in our own planet's atmosphere, Livesey believes that James Webb's observations could make a difference in these studies.

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Cover photo: James Webb's first image of Mars
Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Mars JWST/GTO team

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