NASA Mars Curiosity rover spots placing clouds in Martian sunsets

A Mars rover has watched some spectacular sunsets just lately, with sightings of iridescent, featherlike clouds and solar rays poking by way of the blanketed sky.

The NASA explorer is not taking photos for the ‘Gram to offer all its rover friends FOMO, however to check clouds at twilight(Opens in a brand new tab), constructing on analysis that started two years in the past when it noticed night-shining clouds(Opens in a brand new tab).

The brand new photographs are a reminder that even a look up on the sky from the floor of Mars is an alien expertise, showcasing phenomena that hardly ever or do not exist in our world. Final 12 months a United Arab Emirates Area Company probe orbiting Mars, often called Hope, captured a big inexperienced wormlike aurora above the planet that stretches 1000’s of miles from the sun-facing facet to the again. And researchers affiliated with the European Area Company have found a California-size cloud that exhibits up each spring in southern Mars over a lifeless volcano.


An infinite Martian cloud returns each spring. Scientists discovered why.

Curiosity is including to scientists’ rising financial institution of data concerning the Martian sky. It captured a set of feathery rainbow-like clouds on Jan. 27. When lit by the solar, these kinds of clouds seem as iridescent as mom of pearl jewellery, displaying a kaleidoscope of colours. Although rainbow clouds can happen over Earth(Opens in a brand new tab) once they’re skinny and have plenty of uniform water droplets or ice crystals, they’re extraordinarily uncommon.

“The place we see iridescence, it means a cloud’s particle sizes are similar to their neighbors in every a part of the cloud,” Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist with the Area Science Institute in Colorado, mentioned in a press release(Opens in a brand new tab). “By taking a look at shade transitions, we’re seeing particle dimension altering throughout the cloud. That tells us about the way in which the cloud is evolving and the way its particles are altering dimension over time.”

Curiosity’s photoshoot on Feb. 2 additionally confirmed solar rays pouring by way of Martian clouds. The rover has captured these beams on the Crimson Planet(Opens in a brand new tab) earlier than, however by no means this clearly.

Curiosity capturing a sunset on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover captures a sundown on Mars in April 2015.
Credit score: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS / Texas A&M Univ.

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Most clouds hovering over Mars are not more than 37 miles above floor and fabricated from water ice. However these latest puffs, possible composed of carbon dioxide, are extra like dry ice. They are much larger up, the place the temperatures are much more frigid.

The cloud survey, which can wrap up in mid-March, makes use of the rover’s shade Mastcam(Opens in a brand new tab). Scientists stitched collectively the panoramic photographs of the iridescent cloud and solar rays from over two dozen separate photos despatched again to Earth. They plan to make use of the observations to glean extra details about Mars’ ambiance, temperatures, and climate.

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