NASA’s Curiosity rover is currently observing clouds on Mars. In doing so, he photographed a previously unobserved phenomenon.
BOULDER — NASA’s Curiosity rover has been exploring Mars for more than ten years, but it’s never taken such a picture before: On February 2, 2023, the sun lit up a bank of clouds as it set on the Red Planet and Curiosity “photographed The resulting effect. So-called “cloud rays” can be seen. The clouds block direct sunlight, but the sun’s rays appear at the edge.
As reported by the US space agency NASA, this is the first time that cloud rays have been clearly seen on Mars. Curiosity captured this phenomenon as part of a new study. The rover has been observing clouds at dusk since January. The monitoring campaign will continue until mid-March.
NASA’s Curiosity rover takes an unusual picture of the surface of Mars
Colors can be seen in cloud rays, and the clouds seem to shine reddish and bluish. Another image, taken by Curiosity on January 27, 2023, shows a feather-shaped cloud. The cloud of unusual shape is illuminated by the sun’s rays, which has a bewitching effect: the cloud glows with rainbow colors.
“When we see iridescence, it means the cloud’s particle sizes are identical to those of their neighbors in every part of the cloud,” explains Mark Lemon, an atmospheric scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder. “If we look at color transitions, we see that particle size changes in the cloud. This tells us how the cloud evolves and how particle size changes over time.”
The clouds on Mars reveal a lot about the planet
Curiosity captured both shots, both cloud rays and sparkling feathers, as panoramas. Each image was combined from 28 exposures and adjusted to bring out colors clearly, according to NASA. Just a few months ago, NASA’s Perseverance rover managed to capture a remarkable photo of it interacting with the sun.
Clouds on Mars can reveal a lot to researchers. By observing the clouds, experts can learn more about the composition and temperature of the Martian atmosphere. The clouds also contain information about the winds on the Red Planet and the weather in general.
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As a rule, clouds on the Red Planet are no higher than 60 km above the surface and consist of water ice. According to NASA researchers, the clouds in the current images appear to be in higher regions where they are cooler. Therefore, experts assume that it is made of carbon dioxide ice (commonly known as dry ice). (unpaid bill)
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