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NASA spacecraft captures a phenomenon that has not been observed before on Mars

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from: Tanya Banner

Red Mars. (iconic image) © imago images / UIG

NASA’s Curiosity rover is currently observing clouds on Mars. In doing so, he photographed a previously unobserved phenomenon.

BOULDER – NASA’s rover has been searching for more than ten years “curiousity” the Mars, but he had never captured such an image before: On February 2, 2023, the Sun lit up a bank of clouds as it set on the Red Planet and Curiosity imaged the resulting effect. So-called “cloud rays” can be seen. The clouds block direct sunlight, but the sun’s rays are visible at the edge.

Like the US space agency NASA Reports indicate that 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.

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Especially “sunlights” on Mars: NASA’s Curiosity rover has photographed this phenomenon called “sunlighting” on the Red Planet. It is the first time that a mission to Mars has seen and photographed “cloud rays”. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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.”

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A pillar-shaped cloud in the sky over Mars.  NASA's Curiosity spacecraft photographed the iridescent cloud in rainbow colors.  Researchers can extract some information from the colors.
A pillar-shaped cloud in the sky over Mars. NASA’s Curiosity spacecraft photographed the iridescent cloud in rainbow colors. Researchers can extract some information from the colors. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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 it was a NASA rover “perseverance” Also one The wonderful image succeeded in 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.

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)