Curiosity Captures Shimmering, Iridescent Clouds on Mars

Curiosity Captures Shimmering, Iridescent Clouds on Mars


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured these clouds just after sunset on March 19, 2021, the 3,063rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission. The image is made up of 21 individual images stitched together and color corrected so that the scene appears as it would to the human eye.
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured these clouds just right after sunset on March 19, 2021, the 3,063rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission. The image is made up of 21 person photographs stitched collectively and shade corrected so that the scene seems as it would to the human eye. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mars has a super-slim ambiance in contrast to Earth, with just 1% of its density. And it is really dry there as very well, with minimal or no liquid h2o on its floor. Equally of these variables mean that clouds are a rarity in the martian sky, and they typically only type close to the equator for the duration of the depths of the Martian wintertime.

But two years ago, the Curiosity rover discovered something attention-grabbing: There had been clouds forming overhead from its site, earlier than predicted. One Martian year later on (the equivalent of two Earth years), Curiosity was prepared to go cloud looking once again, and it experienced captured some gorgeous and intriguing photographs of clouds in a generally cloudless sky.

Curiosity started snapping illustrations or photos of the clouds in the course of this yr, beginning in January. And scientists discovered that the early clouds they ended up looking at were being various from standard clouds, as they are at a better altitude. And they are not manufactured from water ice — somewhat, they appear to be to be produced of frozen carbon dioxide.

A single of the most stunning phenomena in the martian sky is “mother of pearl” clouds, which are iridescent and shimmer in all kinds of colors.

“If you see a cloud with a shimmery pastel established of hues in it, which is since the cloud particles are all just about equivalent in dimension,” mentioned Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist with the Room Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “That’s ordinarily happening just after the clouds have formed and have all grown at the identical charge.”

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover spotted these iridescent, or “mother of pearl,” clouds on March 5, 2021, the 3,048th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Seen here are five frames stitched together from a much wider panorama taken by the rover’s Mast Camera, or Mastcam.
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover spotted these iridescent, or “mother of pearl,” clouds on March 5, 2021, the 3,048th Martian working day, or sol, of the mission. Witnessed below are 5 frames stitched jointly from a significantly wider panorama taken by the rover’s Mast Camera, or Mastcam. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Despite the fact that the outcome is highlighted by Curiosity’s Mastcam instrument, this colourful display could even be seen with the bare eye from the Martian floor. “I normally marvel at the colors that clearly show up: Reds and greens and blues and purples,” Lemmon reported. “It’s really cool to see something shining with plenty of colour on Mars.”

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