Teamwork, dream work: MAVEN and JWST observe Mars at different wavelengths

Science Spotlights

Teamwork, dream work: MAVEN and JWST observe Mars at different wavelengths

Left: Webb’s first images of Mars, captured by its NIRCam instrument Sept. 5, 2022 [Guaranteed Time Observation Program 1415] Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Mars JWST/GTO team.
Right: MAVEN/IUVS observation of Mars, observed at a comparable time to Webb’s image. Credit: LASP
Click on the image for a larger view.

Earlier this week, NASA released observations that JWST took of the Red Planet using the telescope’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam). This camera takes full-disk images in infrared wavelengths, which are on the red side of visible light. At about the same time, MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) observed Mars at ultraviolet wavelengths, which is on the opposite side of the visible light spectrum. Observing Mars in these two wavelengths at about the same time allows us to learn different things about Mars and its atmosphere, such as the composition and temperature of the atmosphere. 

In the MAVEN/IUVS image, we are able to see many of the same features that JWST observed, including the Hellas Basin – one of the largest impact craters in the solar system. The stripes in the image are artifacts of how the observations were taken.

Hey Mars, say cheese!

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