April 1, 2023

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NASA: A rare meteorological phenomenon colors the sunset on Mars

By pointing the camera at the alien sky, NASA’s robotic geologist, Curiosity, has captured a rare and colorful sunset.

On February 2, the rover recorded the last rays of sunlight causing iridescence as a thin, passing cloud broke through above the surface of Mars.

NASA said in a statement that this is the first time such “sunlight” has been recorded in such detail on this planet.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/SSI

Curiosity, which has completed its ten years on Mars and has provided valuable clues about the planet’s wet past, is in the second phase of its research into Martian clouds, observations that provide new clues about the planet’s atmosphere and weather system.

Unlike observations from previous stages, which were captured with the robot’s black and white navigation camera, the new images come from the main color camera.

Since the atmosphere of Mars is 100 times thinner than that of Earth, the sky of the neighboring planet is not so bright and often has a yellow tint due to suspended dust. The sun appears smaller due to its greater distance from the earth.

Mars’ soft clouds, composed of water ice crystals, hover about 60 kilometers high and continue to be illuminated by the sun’s last rays even after the sun has fallen below the horizon.

However, Curiosity has also recorded clouds at higher altitudes, which are thought to be composed of dry ice crystals, and carbon dioxide.

In another image taken on February 27, Curiosity captured an iridescent wing-shaped cloud.

“When we see iridescence, it means the size of the ice crystals is the same throughout the cloud,” explained Mark Lemon of the Colorado Space Science Institute, a member of the science team examining the images.

“Looking at the color changes, we see the particle size change throughout the cloud. This shows us how the cloud is evolving and how its particles are changing over time.

However, NASA’s Igenuity helicopter, which is escorting the Perseverance robot to a different region of Mars, also had the opportunity to observe the sky.

over 45Ha During its flight on Feb. 22, the drone marveled at the setting sun over the desolate landscape of Jezero Crater, which is believed to have once housed a lake.

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