Huge sunspot that caused Earth auroras now targets Mars.  

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AR3664, the monster sunspot, is back in the spotlight.  

The sunspot has moved out of view, yet it still produces intense solar flares, as seen on Tuesday (May 14). AR3664's coronal mass ejections will now be directed away from Earth, but experts warn the enormous sunspot could damage Mars.  

"Looking at the measurements of the flare from Mars using the Extreme Ultraviolet Monitor (EUVM) onboard MAVEN, this is by-far the largest flare we've seen since MAVEN arrived at Mars in 2014," Dr. Ed Thiemann, heliophysicist at CU Boulder's LASP, told in an email.   

"We haven't looked at MAVEN's atmospheric measurements yet, but based on prior events, we expect the flare rapidly heated and ionized the Martian upper atmosphere, causing the upper atmospheric temperature to perhaps double for a few hours and inflating the entire daylit hemisphere by tens of km."  

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has a front-row seat on Mars, facing the sun with AR3663 and AR3664.  

Mars, like Earth, is in the direct path of the CME, therefore a solar storm will interact with the Martian atmosphere. Yes, Perseverance could see a worldwide aurora.  

"The CME launched by the flare is on its way and it may cause global-scale aurora and energize Mars's upper ionosphere and magnetosphere," he said.  

Mars lacks a magnetic field to protect it from supercharged particles, unlike Earth. For an occurrence like this, MAVEN must continue to examine Mars' upper atmosphere.  

MAVEN had incredible light shows before. Mars' day and night sides had auroras in August 2022 due to a solar storm.   

In February, NASA astronauts saw a similar illumination from the International Space Station. Scientists hope to learn if the CME affects Mars and what other effects it may have.  

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