Udayavni Special

Viral Photos: NASA’s curiosity rover snaps shining clouds on Mars


Team Udayavani, May 31, 2021, 11:20 AM IST

The Mars Curiosity rover of NASA captured shining clouds on Mars, which arrived earlier and formed higher than expected.

The atmosphere on Mars is usually thin, dry, and cloudy days are rare. The clouds are typically found at the planet’s equator in the coldest time of year when Mars is the farthest from the Sun in its oval-shaped orbit.

Although the scientists noticed clouds forming over NASA’s Curiosity rover earlier than expected, one full Martian year ago – two Earth years.

The team started documenting these “early clouds” in late January this year.

The images show wispy puffs filled with ice crystals that scattered light from the setting Sun.

The rover’s Mast Camera or Mastcam snapped colour images and the iridescent, or “mother of pearl” clouds on March 5, 2021, the 3,048th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist with the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado said, “If you see a cloud with a shimmery pastel set of colors in it, that’s because the cloud particles are all nearly identical in size. That’s usually happening just after the clouds have formed and have all grown at the same rate.”

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