In my science fiction story,there is a phenomenon happening on the moon that looks like a red mist (or nebula, if you will). This mist can slowly move around, because it is controlled by an advanced alien civilisation. The nature of its sentience and movement is irrelevant here: my imagination can take good care of that,and I don't have to explain every detail in a sci-fi novel, for obvious reasons.
However, I have a chapter when an astronaut investigates the phenomenon, and an automated drone is sent to take samples. The astronaut will look at these samples, and will find what it consists of. So, for this "scene" it would be good if I had something specific: you know, particles of some sort, chemicals or anything that could be inside of this "mist" (it can also be similar to a cloud of sorts).
Note that at this point of story I don't want to give anything obvious like "this thing is alive, it is an alien! It has sapience!". At the time of the scene, scientists will already know that it is something caused by aliens, but not that it has any supernatural properties or IS an alien. So I need something fairly normal, like the astronaut finding out that "this thing has trace amounts of #1, but mainly consists of #2".
So here comes the real question: what kind of gasses/chemicals/whatever could cause such a phenomenon as a red nebula or mist (or something that could look similar)?
If it can't be red, feel free to suggest some other color.