Sun rays filtering through rare Martian clouds captured in photographic first image: ScienceAlert

NASA’s Curiosity rover captured the first clear image of solar rays on Mars, which looks like a ghostly sunset with white color.

The rover took the ethereal image on February 2 as the sun set behind a group of twilight clouds. These clouds hang at an unusually high altitude, suggesting that they are likely made of carbon dioxide ice – also known as dry ice.

NASA released the gruesome image on Monday.

A sunset on Mars captured by the Curiosity rover. (NASA)

The sun’s rays shine through the alien clouds, illuminating them with muted shades of green and pink.

Curiosity also captured a feathery iridescent cloud hanging over Mars that appears to glow pink, green and blue in the image below.

Fluffy cloud over dark slope with hints of color.
The rover also captured this feathery iridescent cloud over Mars. (NASA)

“Where we see iridescence, it means that a cloud’s particle sizes are identical to their neighbors in every part of the cloud,” atmospheric scientist Mark Lemmon said in the release.

“By looking at color transitions, we see the particle size change across the cloud. This tells us about the way the cloud evolves and how its particles change size over time.”

Both brilliant images were assembled from a series of 28 images sent back to Earth by the rover and edited to “bring out the highlights,” according to NASA.

The sunset portraits expand on a survey the Curiosity rover completed in 2021, which saw pearly, shimmering twilight clouds pass overhead.

Thin clouds against a gray sky with hints of mother-of-pearl
Five frames stitched together from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover show iridescent, or “mother of pearl,” clouds last year. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The new study relies more on Curiosity’s color camera. The observations began in January and will run until mid-March, so Curiosity should send NASA scientists plenty of new information about these spectacular clouds.

Clouds are rare on Mars, as there is not much water in the planet’s atmosphere. Martian air has only one percent of the density of Earth’s atmosphere.

When clouds do appear, it is mostly around Mars’ equator during the coldest part of its year, when the planet’s orbit takes it farthest from the Sun.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.
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