NASA Mars Curiosity rover spots striking clouds in Martian sunsets

A Mars rover has watched some spectacular sunsets not too long ago, with sightings of iridescent, featherlike clouds and solar rays poking by the blanketed sky.

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

The brand new photos are a reminder that even a look up on the sky from the floor of Mars is an alien expertise, showcasing phenomena that not often or do not exist in our world. Final 12 months a United Arab Emirates Area Company probe orbiting Mars, generally known as 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 reveals up each spring in southern Mars over a lifeless volcano.



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

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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, a majority of these clouds seem as iridescent as mom of pearl jewellery, displaying a kaleidoscope of colours. Although rainbow clouds can occur over Earth(Opens in a new tab) once they’re skinny and have numerous uniform water droplets or ice crystals, they’re extraordinarily uncommon.

“The place we see iridescence, it means a cloud’s particle sizes are equivalent 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 statement(Opens in a new tab). “By coloration transitions, we’re seeing particle measurement altering throughout the cloud. That tells us about the best way the cloud is evolving and the way its particles are altering measurement over time.”

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

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 product of 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 color Mastcam(Opens in a new tab). Scientists stitched collectively the panoramic photos 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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