The veteran rover captured a spectacular sunset at the beginning of a new cloud-imaging mission. NASA’s Curiosity rover captured exceptional Martian clouds and sunset last month. Martian sunsets are based on a particular gloom. As the Sun fell below the horizon on February 2, bright rays highlighted a cloud bank. These “sun beams” are crepuscular, Latin for “twilight.” This was Mars’ first intense sun ray observation.

The picture was photographed by Curiosity during the rover’s latest twilight cloud study, which expands on the 2021 observations of noctilucent, or night-shining, clouds. Most Martian clouds are water ice and float no higher than 60 kilometres (37 miles). But, the clouds depicted in the most recent photographs appear to be located at a higher altitude, where it is freezing. This indicates that these clouds are dry or carbon dioxide ice.

Like on Earth, clouds help scientists better understand complicated but essential information about the weather. Scientists can learn more about the Martian atmosphere’s composition, temperatures, and winds by observing when and where clouds form.

Compared to the previous surveys:

Compared to the 2021 cloud survey, which focused on capturing images of clouds using Curiosity’s black-and-white navigation cameras, the ongoing survey that began in January and will conclude in mid-March predominantly employs the rover’s color Mast Camera or Mastcam. Scientists can follow cloud particle growth and better comprehend cloud structure as they travel.

On January 27, in addition to capturing an image of sun rays, Curiosity captured a series of colorful clouds shaped like a feather. Some types of clouds, when hit by sunlight, produce a rainbow-like effect known as iridescence.

Martian clouds observed in stunning color
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mark Lemmon, Boulder’s Space Science Institute atmospheric scientist said: “Where we see iridescence, it means a cloud’s particle sizes are identical to their neighbors in each part of the cloud,” Moreover, he said: “By looking at color transitions, we’re seeing particle size changing across the cloud. That tells us about the way the cloud is evolving and how its particles are changing size over time.”

Curiosity sent Earth 28 images of sunbeams and colorful clouds. Edited photos emphasize highlights.


Published by: Sky Headlines